On Tuesday, Britain, France and Germany launched the 2015 Iran nuclear deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, which they said was partly prompted by concerns that Tehran might be less than a year away from developing a nuclear weapon.
It’s up to Europe whether the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, will remain in place after the activation of the dispute resolution mechanism, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday.
“Well, it depends on Europe,” Zarif said at the Raisina Dialogue conference in New Delhi, when asked whether the move meant the end of the nuclear deal.
The foreign minister added that the JCPOA was signed in 2015 amid conditions of “mutual mistrust,” this is why no one presumed full compliance with the obligations, and therefore mechanisms for dealing with possible violations were created.
Iran, which has recently scrapped its remaining limitations under the JCPOA, remains ready to reverse its steps as soon as Europe resumes compliance, Zarif said, accusing Europe of violations.
“The steps that we have taken are all within the JCPOA … And we have said, immediately after you [Europe] implement your commitments, we will reverse,” Zarif said.
He also rejected any direct negotiations with the US on the JCPOA, adding that he wasn’t sure of the durability of a “Trump deal”.
“We had a US deal and the US broke it. If we have a Trump deal, how long will it last, another 10 months…?” Zarif said.
On Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Trump to replace the JCPOA with his own new pact to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The US president responded by tweeting that he agreed with Johnson on a “Trump deal”.
Zarif’s remarks come after France, the UK and Germany issued a joint statement on Tuesday indicating that they had been “left with no choice, given Iran’s actions,” but to refer Tehran’s alleged failure to meet its commitments under the JCPOA to the Joint Commission under the treaty’s Dispute Resolution Mechanism.
This stipulates that if the party accused of failing to live up to its commitments does not resolve the complaint against it, the party or parties that triggered the mechanism can cease their own commitments to the JCPOA, notify the UN Security Council, or both.
Iran started to gradually reducing its commitments under the JCPOA in May 2019, one year after the US unilaterally pulled out of the treaty and slapped Tehran with tough energy and banking sanctions. Since that time, Iran and the JCPOA’s the European signatories attempted to negotiate tools with which Iran could be shielded from US sanctions, but to no avail.
Trump Ordered Soleimani’s Killing ‘7 Months Ago’, Zarif Says
Separately in his speech in New Delhi, Zarif focused on the recent killing of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qasem Soleimani, claiming that US President Donald Trump had authorised his assassination seven months ago.
In this vein, he called for creating a new coalition to fight Daesh* militants.
“I think we need to recreate the coalition against Daesh, because the current coalition against it used the basis of the coalition to kill the most effective anti-Daesh general [Qasem Soleimani]. We need a new coalition,” Zarif underscored.
Aftermath of Soleimani’s Assassination
Soleimani was killed on 3 January in a drone strike on Baghdad International Airport ordered by Trump and slammed by Tehran as an act of terror. The attack further escalated US-Iranian tensions which had been simmering since Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018.
Iran retaliated by attacking US forces at the Ayn Al-Asad Air Base and a facility in Erbil in Iraq with ballistic missiles. There were no casualties in the attacks, which Tehran claimed were conducted in self-defence and in sync with the UN Charter.
Trump indicated that there would be no immediate US escalation in the conflict during his address to the nation on 8 January, when he signalled Washington’s readiness to make peace with Tehran if its leadership “changed its behaviour”. At the same time, POTUS underscored that Iran would never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon.