More than 20 high-ranking members of European institutions and think-tanks issued a joint call on the United States to reconsider its approach to the Iran nuclear deal, warning of “undercutting” non-proliferation efforts, “weakening” international law, and “exacerbating” tensions in the Middle East.
American president Donald Trump unilaterally left the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) one year ago on May 8, 2018. Citing insufficiencies in the deal, he said that the deal did not stop Iran’s path to nuclear weaponry, while empowering Tehran’s regime to intensify its influence in the region.
“President Trump’s concerns are not entirely misplaced”, 22 European directors and chairs of institutions and think-tanks wrote in their joint call to the US, adding however that “withdrawing from the deal will hardly contribute to achieving any of his stated objectives”.
Undercutting Non-Proliferation Efforts
The signatories, who “have signed [the call] in their personal capacity”, warned that the US’ withdrawal has “undercut global non-proliferation efforts”.
Although the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has certified Tehran’s compliance with the deal several times, American and Israeli officials presented another narrative to justify the return of the sanctions.
In the first anniversary of American withdrawal, however, the Islamic Republic announced that it will not follow some of the provisions in the JCPOA, citing other parties’ non-compliance with the deal.
“If the five countries came to the negotiating table and we reached an agreement, and if they could protect our interests in the oil and banking sectors, we will go back to square one,” Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said in cabinet’s meeting on May 8.
He set a 60 days deadline for protection of Iranian interests according to the JCPOA, threatening Tehran’s return to uranium enrichment beyond the low level permitted under the deal.
“The Iranian people and the world should know that today is not the end of the JCPOA,” Rouhani added.
According to signatories of the joint European call, Trump’s decision to leave the deal has “undermined the value of multilateral diplomacy”, affirming Tehran’s criticism against Washington.
As the JCPOA was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council through its Resolution 2231, the European signatories warned that American withdrawal has “weakened international law and institutions”.
Exacerbating Regional Tensions
The individual signatories of the joint European call to the US also warn of another possible conflict in the Middle East due to Washington’s campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran.
These recent days have seen an increase in tensions between Iran and the United States.
Washington has refused to extend the sanctions-relief for Tehran’s oil customers. The Islamic Republic has previously warned that if its oil exports are reduced to “zero” according to the Trump’s administration plan, it will disrupt the oil export lines in the Persian Gulf and beyond.
The US has also added the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to its list of terrorist organization. In response, Tehran has designated all American forces in the region as terrorist forces.
The tensions have escalated further in recent days with the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group to the Persian Gulf. Pentagon also confirmed a B-52 bomber task force deployment to the region to confront threats of “heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations,” according to Military Times.
The Trump administration is expected to impose more sanctions on Tehran. The Iranian regime has vowed to resist “economic terrorism”.
It is in such conditions that European signatories called on “a US return to the JCPOA”, which they believe “would help contain the negative consequences”. They also warned that the sanctions “inflicted undue pain on the Iranian population”.
Nathalie Tocci, director of “Istituto Affari Internazionali”, Des Browne and Adam Thomson, chair and director of “European Leadership Network – ELN”, Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, founder of “Bourse & Bazaar”, Steven Blockmans, head of EU foreign policy at the “Centre for European Policy Studies – CEPS”, Ian Bond, director of Foreign Policy at the “Centre for European Reform – CER”, and Thomas Gomart, director of “Institut Français des Relations Internationales – IFRI” are among those signatories.