Europe and the United States, after four years of estrangement, sharpen their positions against Iran. The heads of French, British, German and American diplomacies yesterday urged Tehran to respect the obligations imposed by the nuclear agreement .
According to the ministers, this will facilitate that, after the arrival of Joe Biden to the White House, Washington returns to the pact with which Donald Trump broke unilaterally in 2018. The success or failure of the effort to rescue the agreement will give the measure of the ability to Europeans and Americans to repair multilateral cooperation after the Trump years.
“The E3s (France, the United Kingdom and Germany) and the United States have affirmed their common objective that Iran return to full respect of its commitments regarding the JCPOA [the acronym of the 2015 agreement], ” the statement read that the European and American foreign ministers posted at the end of the meeting.
“Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken has recalled that, as stated by President Biden, if Iran returns to strict respect for its commitments in accordance with the JPOAC, the United States will do the same and that it will be willing to discuss discussions with Iran to achieve it ”.
The road to recovering the agreement is full of obstacles. When Trump left him, he decided to go for a strategy of “maximum pressure” with sanctions that have left the Iranian economy battered. The idea was that the pressure would force Iran to negotiate a better deal.
The effect was the opposite. In 2019, the year after Washington broke the pact, Tehran felt that it felt released from some of its obligations, and resumed nuclear activity. Meanwhile, the European powers, signatories of the agreement along with the United States, Russia and China, tried to keep alive an agreement that had been touched, but not dead.
The victory of Democrat Biden, who was vice president when Barack Obama signed the document five and a half years ago, offers an opportunity to resurrect him, but the timing is delicate. The recent Iranian threat to limit international inspectors’ access to some facilities in the country, and the exceeding of limits to enrich uranium complicate matters.
The parties in conflict are in a trial and error phase. Iran wants the US to lift the sanctions as a precondition to return to compliance with the agreement. Washington, as Blinken said by videoconference to his counterparts meeting in Paris, warns that there will be no dialogue if Iran does not respect its commitments first.
What Blinken and his counterparts – French host Jean-Yves Le Drian, Brit Dominic Raab and German Heiko Maas – demand of Tehran is that it allow access for inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (AEIA, in its acronym in English).
“Any decision to limit the access of the AEIA would be dangerous,” says the statement, which calls on the Iranians to “take into consideration the consequences of such a serious measure, particularly at this time of opportunity for a return to diplomacy.”
The Europeans and the US also expressed “their common concern regarding recent steps by Iran to produce 20% enriched uranium and metallic uranium.” “These activities,” they added, “have no credible civil application.”
The idea of a remodeled deal, which Trump had toyed with, has not been put on hold. The ministers of the three European powers and the United States declared that once Washington returns to the pact, it should be “strengthened” to “respond to the broader security concerns linked to Iran’s missile programs and regional activities.” . The diplomatic struggle has only just begun.