Monday 24 June 2019

EU powers trying to save Iran nuclear deal after US exit

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2018

European powers led by UK, France and Germany reiterated that they were committed to the Iran nuclear deal, after President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the pact. The trio urged the US not to obstruct its implementation.

They said they would work with the other signatories to the 2015 deal - Russia and China - which have stressed continuing support for the accord, reported BBC.

The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) curbed Iran's nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions that had been imposed by the UN, US and EU, it stated.

In a televised address on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said the US would withdraw from the JCPOA. He called it a "horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made".

Rather than protecting the US and its allies, he said it had placed "very weak limits on the regime's nuclear activity and no limits at all on its other malign behaviour, including its sinister activities in Syria, Yemen and other places".

The president added that the accord did not deal with Iran's development of ballistic missiles, and that its inspections mechanisms were not strong enough.

He said he would reimpose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.

The US Treasury said the sanctions would target industries mentioned in the deal, including Iran's oil sector, aircraft manufacturers exporting to Iran and Iranian government attempts to buy US dollar banknotes, said the BBC report.

In response, Iran said it would restart uranium enrichment, if the agreement could not be salvaged.

In a statement, President Hassan Rouhani said: "I have ordered the foreign ministry to negotiate with the European countries, China and Russia in the coming weeks. If we achieve the deal's goals in co-operation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place."

There were furious scenes in the Iranian parliament, with members burning an American flag and the speaker reportedly saying Mr Trump lacked "mental capacity".

But the US move was welcomed by Iran's major regional rivals, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies and also Israel.

Since the signing of the agreement in 2015, Gulf states were concerned that the deal was negotiated by countries outside the range of Iran's ballistic missiles.

Arab countries such as Bahrain and the UAE followed suit and expressed their countries' support for the decision taken by President Trump.

Bahrain's Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa last night said the Iran deal was “crippled” and had allowed Tehran the freedom to stoke tensions in the region unchecked, reported the Gulf Daily News.

“Iran says the US is renouncing its vows,” stated the report citing Shaikh Khalid's tweets.

“We have many treaties with the US dating back many decades and none of them have been revoked. We saw the reversal of vows, lies and conspiracies from the untrustworthy Iranian regime," he stated on his Twitter account.

“The Iranian nuclear agreement was born thin and lived crippled. It was an imperfect agreement that unleashed the hands of Iran to tamper with the security and stability of the region. It fell today and thank God,” he tweeted.

Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, wrote on Twitter: "Iran interpreted the JCPOA as concurrence of its regional hegemony. An aggressive Iran was emboldened as a result & its ballistic missile program became both offensive and exportable."

Event ordinary Saudis rejoiced at the announcement, tweeting photos of Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with comments like "We prevailed", "Game over", and "Action, not words", reported Arab News.

"No deal could ever be struck with the devil, and Saudi Arabia fully supports President Trump's decision ... Together we prevail," one tweet read.

Saudi government said it also supports the reinstatement of economic sanctions on the Iranian regime, which were suspended under the agreement.

"The Kingdom’s previous support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - signed in 2015 by Iran and the P5+1 group of countries China, France, Russia, the UK, the US and Germany - was based on the conviction that all possible steps must be taken that might help to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, and the wider world. The Iranian regime however, took advantage of the economic benefits afforded by the lifting of sanctions and used them to continue its destabilizing activities in the region, especially by developing its ballistic missiles and supporting terrorist organizations in the region, including Hezbollah and the Houthi militias," the government said in a statement released by Saudi Press Agency.
It said the groups used these capabilities, provided by Iran, to target civilians in the kingdom and Yemen, “as well as repeatedly targeting international shipping lanes in a blatant violation of UN Security Council resolutions.”

The statement further said: “The Kingdom reaffirms its support of the strategy previously announced by President Trump towards Iran, and hopes the international community will take a firm and unified stance against the Iranian regime, and its destabilizing aggression in the region, its support to terrorist groups, particularly Hezbollah and the Houthi militias, and its support of the Assad regime — which has committed heinous crimes against its people that led to the death of more than half a million civilians, including through the use of chemical weapons.”

Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a prominent critic of the accord, said he "fully supports" Mr Trump's withdrawal from a "disastrous" deal.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton is reported as saying that European companies doing business in Iran will have to stop doing so within six months or face US sanctions.

The deal was not perfect. It did not cover a range of worrying Iranian activities from its missile programme to its regional behaviour, he was quoted as saying by BBC.

However, his bitter critics argued that the nuclear deal was working.

"Despite this, Mr Trump presented it in stark and frankly erroneous terms - for leaving out things that it was never supposed to cover in the first place. He has put US diplomacy on a collision course with some of Washington's closest allies," they stated.

And some fear that he may have brought a new and catastrophic regional war in the Middle East that much closer.

Other signatories to the deal have been left aghast. Russia said it was "deeply disappointed" by Mr Trump's decision.

The French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, insisted the deal was "not dead" and said there would be a meeting between France, Britain, Germany and Iran on Monday.

Former President Barack Obama - who played a key role in the agreement - said on Facebook that it was working and protected US interests.

"Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America's closest allies, and an agreement that our country's leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated," he said.

The JCPOA saw Iran agree to limit the size of its stockpile of enriched uranium - which is used to make reactor fuel, but also nuclear weapons - for 15 years and the number of centrifuges installed to enrich uranium for 10 years.

Iran also agreed to modify a heavy water facility so it could not produce plutonium suitable for a bomb.

In return, sanctions imposed by the UN, US and EU that had crippled Iran's economy were lifted.

Tags: France | UK | Germany | Trump |

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