European countries can boost trade ties with Iran to neutralize the impacts of Washington’s likely withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, an Iranian nuclear expert said.
US President Donald Trump has threatened that he will pull out of the agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Germany, France and Britain do not meet his demands.
Trump has frequently railed against the nuclear accord labelling it as the "worst deal ever negotiated”. He has called on the three European signatories to the deal to make "significant changes” to it to prevent the White House’s withdrawal.
Trump set May 12 as the deadline for reaching an agreement to change the JCPOA. If no consensus is reached by that date, Trump is expected to quit the deal.
“If the US wanted to quit the deal, Europe would not be able to prevent it. But Europe can warn the US and adopt a series of measures to make the withdrawal ineffective…for instance Europe can promote its trade cooperation with Iran following the expected withdrawal,” Hassan Beheshtipour told Moj News Agency.
Beheshtipour pointed to a UN resolution which endorsed the JCPOA saying the US has to stick to its obligations under the deal.
On July 20, 2015, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2231 endorsing the JCPOA.
“Since the JCPOA was endorsed by the UNSC, and the US voted for the resolution, it has to fulfill its commitments under the deal,” the Iranian expert said.
Beheshtipour touched upon a resolution passed by the IAEA’s Board of Governors in December 2015, which closed the so-called possible military dimensions (PMD) case in Iran’s nuclear program.
He said the resolution ended a political case against the Islamic Republic describing it as an achievement of the nuclear deal which was signed between Iran and the P5+1 (the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) in July 2015.
The expert said the JCPOA bears legal, political and economic significance.
“As a result of the deal, 900 among 1,300 sorts of sanctions were lifted. If they had not been lifted we would not be able to export oil and petrochemical products, import precious metals and would also be banned from shipping in major ports in the world,” he said.
Beheshtipour added that the JCPOA reduced the risk of investment in Iran.
The lifting of sanctions on Iran began in January 2016 as part of the JCPOA. Since then Iran’s oil exports along with its byproducts have seen a significant rise. Scores of foreign delegations have also travelled to Iran to either resume or boost trade ties with the Islamic Republic. This has led to the signing of major bilateral contracts.
The US has so far issued waivers to suspend Iran sanctions as part of the JCPOA.
Beheshtipour said if the White House refused to do so in the May 12 deadline, the situation would become complicated.
“If Trump does not issue a new waiver, we should see whether China, South Korea, Japan and Europe which are Iran’s major trade partners will toe Washington’s line. If they do so, the secondary sanctions would be important to us; the sanctions which would push eastern Asia and Europe not to cooperate with Iran out of fears of US sanctions.”
The export, however, downplayed the impacts of the “secondary sanctions”.
Beheshtipour said the US imposed sanctions and mounted pressure on Tehran through a legal regime prior to the JCPOA. He added that this legal regime has collapsed because anti-Iran documents in the IAEA and the UN Security Council are not on the agenda anymore.
His comments were a reference to the resolutions approved by the IAEA and UN Security Council which indicate that Iran has complied with its international commitments under the JCPOA.
He also said the ongoing trade war between the US and its trade allies has hampered Washington’s effort to exert pressure on Iran.
“Presently, the US is engaged in a trade war with China and Europe. Hence, it has not only lost the legal regime to mount pressure on Iran, but has also lost the backing of its trade partner,” Beheshtipour said.