- The UK, France, and Germany confirmed Tuesday that they had officially triggered the dispute mechanism enshrined in the Iran nuclear deal.
- The three countries are the European signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
- The Europeans said their decision came after Iran pulled away from its commitments under the deal and ignored their attempts to bring it back.
- Iran’s pulling away from the deal was largely a response to President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the deal in May 2018.
- The European statement came hours after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for a new “Trump deal” if the JCPOA no longer worked.
- You can see a step-by-step guide on how the dispute mechanism works below.
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The UK, France, and Germany have officially triggered the dispute mechanism in the Iran nuclear deal while rejecting US President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” sanctions on the country.
The three countries negotiated the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran alongside the US, China, and Russia.
The JCPOA was designed to stop Iran from producing its own nuclear weapons, and it set up a framework limiting the quantity and degree to which Iran was allowed to enrich uranium.
‘We have therefore been left with no choice’
The three countries’ decision comes in response to Iran’s May announcement that it would stop meeting some of its commitments under the deal and full withdrawal from it earlier this month. European countries have attempted multiple times to salvage the deal, but Iran has refused to return to the agreement.
“We have therefore been left with no choice, given Iran’s actions, but to register today our concerns that Iran is not meeting its commitments under the JCPOA and to refer this matter to the Joint Commission under the Dispute Resolution Mechanism, as set out in paragraph 36 of the JCPoA,” the three countries said in a statement Tuesday.
- The Joint Commission — made up of negotiators from the signatory countries — has 15 days of resolve the issue.
- If this fails after 15 days, any participant can refer the issue to the countries’ ministers of foreign affairs. The ministers then have another 15 days to discuss and find a resolution.
- If the issue isn’t resolved after those 30 days, it will be elevated to the JCPOA Advisory Board, which has five days to negotiate.
- If it still isn’t resolved, then the complaining signatory country can treat the issue as “grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part,” and/or refer it to the UN Security Council. The US, Russia, China, Britain, and France sit on that council.
- The UN Security Council would then have 30 days to find a resolution to continue with sanctions relief on Iran, which was enshrined in the JCPOA.
- If no resolution is adopted, then all previous sanctions on Iran would be reimposed. This is also called a “snapback.”
Europe vows no maximum pressure on Iran, apparently recognizing Trump’s failed strategy
Iran’s withdrawal from the deal largely came in response to Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the nuclear deal in May 2018 and to impose punitive “maximum pressure” sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.
Trump had hoped his maximum-pressure economic strategy would force Iran’s leaders to comply with the US’s demands about its behavior, but it has largely emboldened the government against the US.
Britain, France, and Germany appeared to rebuke the strategy by stressing that they wouldn’t impose maximum pressure on Iran.
They said on Tuesday, regarding the dispute-mechanism trigger: “We do this in good faith with the overarching objective of preserving the JCPOA and in the sincere hope of finding a way forward to resolve the impasse through constructive diplomatic dialogue, while preserving the agreement and remaining within its framework.”
They added: “In doing so, our three countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran. Our hope is to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA.”
The statement came hours after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated calls to curb Iran’s nuclear limits and called for a new “Trump deal” if the JCPOA no longer worked.