Macron: Europe plans no immediate sanctions if Iran lowers nuclear commitments
Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations warned that a 2015 nuclear deal signed between the Islamic Republic and global powers, known as the JCPOA, is not functioning properly because parties to the deal have not done enough to save it since the United States pulled out of the agreement in May 2018.
“Since the US withdrew from the JCPOA, the Europeans have not done anything tangible, meaning it is malfunctioning,” said Majid Takht-Ravanchi in a briefing with journalists in New York on Saturday.
“We cannot continue to carry out our obligations under JCPOA singlehandedly and not to benefit from it,” Takht-Ravanchi said.
The comments come amid rising tensions on Iran’s nuclear case as the country has threatened to stop abiding by the JCPOA, an agreement signed in 2015 with six major powers, which was supposed to lift sanctions on Tehran in return for curbing its nuclear program.
Iran notified parties to the JCPOA last month that it will resume its uranium enrichment if they fail to come up with a practical solution to keep the deal functioning.
Iran has specifically been critical of a financial mechanism launched by Britain, France and Germany to circumvent US sanctions on Iran, saying the initiative, known as INSTEX, has failed to defuse US restrictions on trade with Iran.
Takht-Ravanchi said INSTEX, which is supposed to settle payments between European exporters and importers dealing with Iran, was not doing enough to allay Iran’s concerns, insisting that the Europeans have failed to provide enough credit to keep the scheme running.
“This mechanism without money is like a very beautiful car which has run out of fuel,” said the ambassador, adding, “Personally, I think INSTEX does not suffice in (its) current condition.”
Macron on JCPOA
French President Emmanuel Macron said Europe has no immediate plans to follow the US and impose sanctions on Iran, even if Tehran scales back its commitments to the nuclear accord.
Talking in a press conference in Japan on Saturday, Macron said Europe won’t trigger sanctions if Iran goes over the uranium stockpile limit, because that is not how the nuclear deal works.
“This is a big risk,” he said. “What we will do in such a case isn’t to move directly to sanctions, but to act precisely following the treaty we signed in 2015,” he said.
In case of noncompliance, France, Germany and the UK will first hold talks with Iran for official explanations, Macron said.
The French president signaled understanding for the Iranian position. “Until very recently the Iranians, following all the records, behaved properly, they followed the rulebook. Now because of the increase in sanctions and tensions, indeed they are threatening to slightly move differently,” he said.
Under the deal, there is a multistep complaint and evaluation process, which takes at least 50 days to work through. Only at the end of that would Europe potentially impose sanctions if Iran was still out of step with the deal. But some European officials say France, Germany and the UK may hold off on triggering that mechanism and wait for a bigger breach.
Macron also said his main goal is to de-escalate tensions between Iran and the US and will do “everything” he can to “avoid a conflict.”
US officials in recent days have urged Europeans to toughen their stance on Iran after the US administration imposed fresh sanctions on Monday in response to the downing of a US spy drone.
The drone was shot down on June 20 after it violated Iran’s airspace and ignored repeated warning by the Iranian military to leave.
Press TV and The Wall Street Journal contributed to this story.