0644 GMT February 25, 2020
Merkel: Don't scrap JCPOA before a better deal
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Friday he had extended the time available to discuss ways to save the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran under a dispute mechanism triggered by France, Germany, and Britain.
“There is agreement that more time is needed due to the complexity of the issues involved. The timeline is therefore extended,” Borrell said in a statement.
“All JCPOA participants reconfirmed their determination to preserve the agreement which is in the interest of all,” he said, using the acronym for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which is the official name of the Iran deal.
On January 14, Borrell was notified by Paris, London, and Berlin that they had triggered the dispute mechanism, in theory starting a 15-day process to resolve issues with Iran. However, in practice it is not clear when the 15-day period should start because Iran has not formally recognized the consultation process, officials have said.
Borrell said the Joint Commission that regulates the Iran nuclear deal will meet in February but did not give a date.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned against prematurely scrapping the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying that it would be wrong to abandon an “imperfect” deal with nothing better in place.
Britain, France, and Germany – collectively known as the EU3 or E3 – launched the process last week charging Iran with failing to observe the terms of the multinational nuclear agreement, a move that could eventually see the UN Security Council reimpose international sanctions on the country.
Iran has criticized the three European nations for inaction over sanctions the United States reimposed after unilaterally withdrawing from the landmark accord in May 2018.
Iran has rejected the European move to trigger the dispute mechanism of the deal, saying it "has no legal basis."
The 2015 nuclear deal reached with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
A year after the US pullout, Iran began to roll back its commitments to the accord in retaliation.
Iran's latest and final step in January entailed forgoing the limit on the number of machines used to make uranium more potent.
Iran has said it will return to its nuclear obligations if the European signatories hold their part of the bargain.
“The very day you return to your commitments, we will live up to our own commitments,” President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday.
The Wall Street Journal cited European diplomats as saying that the E3 will avoid triggering sanctions against Iran.
The US daily reported on Thursday that European diplomats don't expect Iran to reverse the suspension of its nuclear deal commitments and that the diplomats "privately say they are prepared to tolerate those steps".
According to the WSJ report, European diplomats are seeking to persuade Iran against taking major "new nuclear steps Iran has not taken yet" and "restrain" the expansion of its nuclear activities.
The report added that European officials are currently divided, however, on what would constitute as a restrained approach from Iran, with some proposing that Tehran’s "modest" continued expansion of its uranium production would be acceptable.
Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story.