Europeans take first step to punish Iran over nuclear pact breaches

People walk in front of a mural of Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran, Iran July 7, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 09 July 2019

Europeans take first step to punish Iran over nuclear pact breaches

  • European powers urged Iran to reverse its move to increase uranium enrichment
  • The European parties to the deal along with the EU's diplomatic chief called on Tehran to reverse breaches of the agreement

BERLIN: European powers took their first step on Tuesday toward punishing Iran for breaking its nuclear agreement, triggering the deal’s mechanism to resolve breaches.
The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, plus the foreign affairs chief of the European Union, said in a statement that Iran was “pursuing activities inconsistent with its commitments” under the deal, known as the JCPoA.
“These compliance issues must be addressed within the framework of the JCPoA, and a Joint Commission should be convened urgently,” they said.
The three European powers are the remaining Western signatories to Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement, which was abandoned by the United States last year.
Convening a joint commission of signatories — the Europeans plus Russia and China — is the first step in a process foreseen in the agreement that could eventually lead to a “snapback,” bringing back the international sanctions lifted by the deal.
“Iran has stated that it wants to remain within the JCPoA. It must act accordingly by reversing these activities and returning to full JCPoA compliance without delay,” the European countries said.
The 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers offered Iran access to world trade in return for agreeing to curbs on its nuclear program.
The future of the pact has been in doubt since last year when the United States pulled out of it and reimposed unilateral sanctions. Iran has said it wants to continue to abide by the agreement but cannot do so indefinitely if US sanctions prevent it from receiving any of the promised economic benefits.
The deal’s fate has come to a head in the past 10 days, after Iran announced steps that were in violation of its central commitments — it announced that it had amassed more enriched uranium than allowed under the agreement and said it had refined uranium to a higher purity.
Tehran argues that its steps are permitted under the deal as a response to US non-compliance. It has said it could take new steps in 60 days, including restarting dismantled centrifuges and purfiying uranium to a sharply higher threshold.
CONFRONTATION
The nuclear diplomacy is a central issue in a wider confrontation between the United States and Iran, which has escalated since the start of May when Washington tightened sanctions with the aim of halting all Iranian oil exports.
The dispute took on a military dimension, with Washington accusing Tehran of attacks on ships in the Gulf. Last month Iran shot down a US drone, prompting President Donald Trump to order retaliatory air strikes, only to call them off minutes before impact.
The European powers strongly disagreed with the Trump administration’s decision to abandon the nuclear deal, and have since found themselves caught in the middle, trying to persuade Iran to stick to it without receiving the promised benefits.
The Trump administration argues that the deal agreed under his predecessor Barack Obama was too weak because some of its terms were not permanent and it omitted non-nuclear issues such as Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional policies.
Trump’s hard-line policy is backed by oil-exporting Arab states in the Gulf, which consider Iran a foe and stand to gain from US sanctions that have removed Iranian crude from the market, and by Israel, which has repeatedly called on the European countries to reimpose sanctions.


3 Iraqi protesters killed in clashes with security forces

Updated 1 min 2 sec ago

3 Iraqi protesters killed in clashes with security forces

  • The security and hospital officials said on Thursday that one protester was killed when security forces used live rounds to repel demonstrators from Ahrar Bridge

BAGHDAD: Iraqi officials say three anti-government protesters have been killed in clashes with security forces overnight in Baghdad.

The security and hospital officials said on Thursday that one protester was killed when security forces used live rounds to repel demonstrators from Ahrar Bridge.

The officials say the two other protesters were killed in clashes on the city’s Sinak Bridge, when security forces fired tear gas canisters to repel them.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Protesters have been occupying parts of Baghdad’s three main bridges — Sinak and Ahrar and Jumurhiya Bridg — leading to the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government.