The key is to resist artificial deadlines from Tehran and give the formal mechanisms in the nuclear deal time to work throughby Darya Dolzikova / June 19, 2019 / Leave a comment
On Monday, during a press conference at the Arak Nuclear Complex, Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi announced that Iran will exceed the 300kg stockpile limit for enriched uranium imposed on it under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), within the next ten days.
The announcement follows earlier threats from Iran to reduce its compliance with the JCPOA by the start of July, if Europe fails to meet Iranian expectations of the economic benefits due under the deal. The special trade vehicle that the Europeans introduced in January—INSTEX—which was intended to allow European companies to continue doing business with Iran despite American sanctions, has apparently failed to impress. Little wonder, considering that it has yet to host its first transaction, although the European parties to the JCPOA are reportedly working on delivering one soon. Last week’s attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman exacerbated tensions further, with the United States pointing the finger at Iran, and Tehran accusing the White House of waging an “Iranophobic” campaign.
According to remarks by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Europe can still save the JCPOA if it acts quickly. But the rush seems to be largely artificial and arbitrary. It does not align with the early July timeframe previously set by Iran, or the expected August publication of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) newest report on Iranian implementation of the JCPOA. The reason for the added rush from Iran’s side is unclear. One possible explanation may be that it is a response to the Gulf of Oman incident and accusations of Iranian involvement; a Hail Mary pass to secure some reassurance from the Europeans that they will not succumb to increasing American pressure following the attacks. Perhaps not coincidentally, the ten days run out just in time for the G20 summit, where President Trump will meet with his European counterparts and where Iranian sanctions will no doubt take up significant airtime.
Instead of taking the bait and bowing to Iranian antics, Europe needs to let the work of the IAEA and the dispute resolution mechanism built into the JCPOA take their course. As of the latest IAEA report, Iran is in compliance with the terms of the deal. With the next publication in August, the nuclear watchdog will once again comment on Iranian compliance and confirm whether threats to exceed permitted stockpiles hold any water or if Tehran is bluffing. Until then, it would be foolish to take Iranian declarations—whether…