Europe is trying to save Iran’s nuclear deal

EU-director Helga Schmid (L-R), Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif, Vienna, Austria, 06 July 2018. [EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA]

Top French, German and British diplomats were meeting with the US envoy for Iran in Paris on Thursday (27 June) in a bid to salvage the Iran nuclear deal which the Trump administration has abandoned, amid continuing tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Iran’s parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani threatened a strong reaction against the violation of its borders by the US this morning. Larijani said that the recent downing of a US drone by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was a good lesson for the US to avoid any aggression.

The drone was shot down one week ago and President Donald Trump ordered and called off at the last minute retaliatory air strikes. Instead, the US launched a cyber-attack on Iran’s missile launching systems.

The European camp which calls for de-escalation is led by French President Emmanuel Macron, who wants to convince Trump to re-open negotiations. He is going to meet with Trump at the G20 summit this weekend.

In response to the tensions, six European countries released a statement saying that “it is more important than ever to preserve the JCPOA.”

According to the statement, the JCPOA (an acronym for the Iran nuclear deal) is widely regarded as fundamental to regional and international peace and security, a major achievement in nuclear non-proliferation and of diplomacy. Britain, France, Germany, Poland, Belgium and Estonia also regret US’ withdrawal from the Plan on 8 May 2018.

Europe calls for 'urgent restraint' as US hits Iran with extra sanctions

The European Union called for an “immediate de-escalation” of tensions in the Middle East on Monday (24 June), as the US government announced new “hard-hitting” sanctions on Iran after launching a series of cyber attacks on the country last week.

“The impact of military action on Iran would lead to an accelerated human rights and humanitarian crisis and would only serve to destabilise an already troubled region,” said a statement signed by 121 Iranian human rights defenders and groups based inside and outside the country, which was issued in response to the recent escalation.

Broad economic sanctions have already made the work of Iran-based human rights defenders more difficult. “Many of them are struggling to make ends meet in a depressed economy, while their activities have become increasingly risky in a heightened security environment,” the statement said.

The fight has been transferred into war of words

President Trump said on Wednesday, that whatever Iran does, it is fine for him and he has unlimited time for reaching the deal with Tehran.

“They have a country that is in economic distress, they can solve it quickly or they can solve it in ten years. In the meantime, there are very strong sanctions and they have to live with these sanctions.”

Iran’s UN envoy warned that Iran can no longer shoulder the entire burden of preserving the JCPOA alone, adding that with US sanctions, JCPOA was ineffective.

Further complicating things, Russia is willing to help Iran counter US sanctions.

“Iran has been and remains our ally and partner. We consistently develop our relations, both bilateral and multilateral, which means any attempt to portray Iran as the main threat to regional security is unacceptable to us,” said Nikolai Patrushev from the Russian National Security Council.

Trump unleashed the latest tensions between Iran and the US with his decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme last year.

It was the base for the latest incidents in June. One week ago, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down US drone, which was according to them doing espionage in their territory.

It triggered a retaliatory attack, which was cancelled by Trump at the last minute.

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