The internationally negotiated Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) of 14 July 2015, or the Iran nuclear agreement, concluded between Iran, the P5+1,and the EU is widely considered to be a very important political, diplomatic, mutually beneficial achievement which contributes greatly to the strengthening and indeed survival of the NPT. Since the entry into force of the JPCOA in January 2016, the IAEA has consistently verified Iran’s compliance with all of its international safeguards obligations under the JCPOA, which constitute the strictest safeguards regime ever applied to any NPT State Party.
Without the JCPOA, and withcontinued and extensive sanctions on Iran as well as the threats of attack on Iranian nuclear installations, Irancould have considered withdrawing from the NPT with all the negative consequences of such decision. Therefore, full implementation of the JCPOA by Iran, as confirmed 12 times by the IAEA, is a unique opportunity which should not be missed.
The U.S. policy on the JCPOA is not only incoherent but deeply hypocritical. At his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 12, 2018, CIA Director Mike Pompeo stated he “had seen no evidence” that Iran “was not in compliance” with the JCPOA. Regarding the perceived need to “fix” or pull out of the deal he said: “Iran wasn’t racing to a weapon before the deal. There is no indication that… if the deal no longer existed that they would immediately turn to racing to create a nuclear weapon.” The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif replied on April 13, 2018: “In the past Iran was sanctioned over false claims that it sought nuclear weapons. Now, sanctions must be re-imposed because we seek no nukes?”
The U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA, the agreement adopted by consensus by P5+1, including the United States, is undoubtedly a violation of this multilateral agreement and the UN security Council Resolution 2231. In addition, the U.S. re-imposition of sanctions and threats against other countries who cooperate with Iran in fulfillment of their obligations under the JCPOA, shall have serious impact on the nonproliferation regime in general and on the 2020 NPT Review Conference specifically.
It has to be recalled that in 2003 Iran accepted the request of the EU3to suspend all enrichment related activities, apply Additional Protocoland the modified code 3.1 of Subsidiary Arrangement, with the assurances in return that the file of allegations in the IAEA will be soon closed, and cooperation of the EU with Iran shall be promoted. After two and half years of full commitment to the voluntary measures by Iran, the EU3 countries were not able to realize their commitments under the excuse that the United States was not on board and they could not deliver what they had guaranteed! The worst was that following Iran’s suspension of its voluntary commitments, the EU3 proposed a resolution that conveyed this issue to the UNSC!
Now the history repeats itself with different dimensions. Not only the EU3 but the whole EU credibility is again at stake, after the United States disregarded the JCPOA and its parties, including the EU. So far, the EU has strongly supported the JCPOA and emphasized its commitment to preserve the agreement and to continue its cooperation with Iran. Word has to turn into action. The EU has to give legally binding assurances in preventing the U.S. sanctions and threats against European firms from being realized.
Considering the case of the JCPOA and other serious cases such as the U.S. trade war against the EU, this is a unique historical strategic opportunity for the European Union to stand on its own fit, resist the U.S. pressure that is dictating on matters related to national security interests of the EU member states and preventing their independent cooperation with other countries in the world.