European group calls for JCPOA support

19 September 2017

Seventy-six European leaders from 20 countries have called on the US Administration to preserve the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. In a statement issued by the European Leadership Network (ELN) think tank, they also urge the JCPOA's European signatories to make clear their continued support for the nuclear deal.

P5+1 and Iranian leaders pictured at JCPOA negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2015 (Image: Jean-Guy Python/EU)

The US Administration is next month to conclude a review of its relations with Iran and is required to report to Congress on whether Tehran is still complying with the JCPOA, which was signed in July 2015 by Iran and the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA - also referred to as the P5+1 - plus the European Union) and implemented in January 2016. Under its terms, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment activities, eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and limit its stockpile of low enriched uranium over the next 15 years.

The signatories say they are "greatly concerned" by reports that the US Administration might unilaterally declare Tehran to be non-compliant with the JCPOA. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - which is responsible for verifying and monitoring Iran's implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the plan - has recently confirmed that Iran continues to comply with the terms of the agreement.

"Unilateral US action that jeopardised the JCPOA would be a grave mistake," the statement says, adding that it would harm US interests and credibility in Europe and elsewhere; damage cooperation in the UN Security Council; and make it harder to keep Iran and its region non-nuclear and more difficult for the USA "and her Allies" to tackle "unacceptable" Iranian behaviour. "Would it make sense to precipitate a second nuclear crisis alongside that with North Korea?" the statement asks.

Recognising that the JCPOA "does not pretend" to remove all grounds for "mutual hostility", the ELN says the agreement has succeeded in its "sole purpose" of closing off pathways to Iran's potential acquisition of a nuclear weapon. Since the agreement, it notes, Iran has dismantled two-thirds of its uranium enrichment centrifuges, capped enrichment by the remainder, reduced its uranium stockpile, halted work on a plutonium production reactor, and allowed "unprecedented" access to its nuclear facilities and supply chain. This has "materially improved" the outlook for European and world security, it said.

"For as long as Iran complies, the agreement deserves to be defended," the ELN said. Unilateral action "by any side" would weaken the deal and play into the hands of "hardliners" who wish to subvert it. Jeopardising the agreement "would not make Iran less likely to acquire nuclear weapons", it notes. It also says US concerns "would gain more respect and support if pursued multilaterally".

Europe "has a larger stake" in the strict enforcement of the JCPOA than does the USA and "at this moment should not stand idly by", the statement says. It calls on the deal's European signatories - that is, the EU and the German, French, Russian and UK governments - to "make clear publicly as well as privately in Washington" their ongoing support for the deal and willingness to work to see it continue, even in the absence of US participation.

[N]ot certifying Iranian compliance when the IAEA says Iran is in compliance would be unwarranted and they [the European JCPOA signatories] would not be in a position to support the US on this in the Security Council," it says.

The statement urges President Donald Trump and the US Congress to "address the facts of Iranian compliance" on the terms of the deal and not on other points; to consider that the JCPOA "cannot be expected to solve non-nuclear issues"; to address any concerns over compliance multilaterally; to work towards the possibility of increasing the duration and extending the scope of the deal; and to "[a]ccept that the fastest path to an Iranian nuclear weapon would be to undermine this agreement".

The statement's signatories come from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and the UK. They include George Robertson, former UK defence secretary and NATO secretary general; Wolfgang Ischinger, chair of the Munich Security Conference; Javier Solana, former EU high representative and NATO secretary general; and Igor Ivanov, former Russian foreign minister.

The ELN is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation working to advance the idea of a "cooperative and cohesive" Europe and to develop a collaborative European capacity to address foreign, defence and security policy challenges through its network of former and emerging European political, military, and diplomatic leaders. The London-based organisation says it "conceives of Europe in its widest sense" including Russia, Turkey and Ukraine as well as the EU.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News