The Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), limits Iran’s nuclear activities for 15 years. After that period Iran would still be bound by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its Additional Protocol. But Iran would be free to produce enriched Uranium for its nuclear reactors.
In October 2017 the U.S. left the treaty and reintroduced economic sanctions against Iran. But the European signatories, France, Britain and Germany, said they would stick to the deal. Gérard Araud, France’s ambassador to the United States, tweeted around that time:
France doesn't support any reopening of JCPOA which should be implemented as it is.
France and Germany created a complicate structure to allow some commercial dealing with Iran while escaping secondary U.S. sanction threats. Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei called the construct “a joke” as it will hardly allow any serious trade.
Last week Germany, Britain and France also stepped up nagging Iran about its ballistic missile programs. Iran harshly rejects (vid, recommended) any such criticism. It has long voluntarily limited the range of its missiles to 2,000 kilometer. As it has no modern air force, missiles are its only means to hold its enemies’ assets in the Middle East at risk. It will never give up on them.
Iran sticks to its side of the JCPOA deal. It limits its nuclear activities while allowing the IAEA full access to inspect the country. With U.S. sanctions piling up while the Europeans are unwilling to support regular commercial exchange and waffle about Iran’s ballistic missiles, it becomes more and more difficult for Iranian politicians to justify the deal. If the U.S. and the EU do not stick to their side of the deal why should Iran do so?
The Europeans continue to drag their feet. Last week the Royal Mail in Britain said that it would no longer accept parcels to Iran. No sound reason was given. Yesterday Gérard Araud, who in 2017 defended the nuclear deal, set out to put it under doubt:
It’s false to say that at the expiration of the JCPOA, Iran will be allowed to enriching uranium. Under the NPT and its additional protocol, it will have to prove, under strict monitoring, that its nuclear activities are civilian.
As we said in 2002 that enriching uranium without a credible civilian program was illegal under the NPT, we’ll be able to react likewise in 2025 if necessary. Sanctions were imposed. Sanctions could be reimposed. There is no “sunset” after the JCPOA.
Russia is providing enriched uranium to the Busheer nuclear power plant. So there won’t be any conceivable reason for Iran to massively enriching uranium after the JCPOA.
Germany should stop to build the Nord Stream II pipeline because it is supposedly dangerous to depend on gas imports from Russia. But Iran should trust Russia with providing Uranium for its nuclear plants? Why is Germany allowed to enrich Uranium for its nuclear plants? Russia could surely provide that too.
After the 15 year moratorium under the JCPOA ends, Iran is of course free to produce its own Uranium for its own nuclear plants. There is nothing in international laws that demands that Iran continues to buy it from Russia. Araud’s statement makes no sense.
Yesterday morning Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister replied to Araud:
If tweets by @GerardAraud represent French position, we're facing a major violation of the object and purpose of the JCPOA and UNSCR 2231. Needs immediate clarification by Paris, or we act accordingly.
It seems that Germany, Britain and France are inclined to make it increasingly difficult for Iran to stick to the JCPOA deal. They are playing into the hands of the neoconservative hawks in the U.S. who want Iran to exit the deal to then claim to have reason to attack it.
Like with the war on Syria it would be the Europeans that would suffer from any U.S. conflict with Iran. Why are they playing this game?
— Update 1:20 PM EST, APRIL 14
It seems that Gérard Araud got an urgent call from the Quai d’Orsay or Palace Elysée and was told to delete his tweets:
French ambo to US (recently retired) removed tweets reneging on pillars of JCPOA and implying reimposition of sanctions if Iran expands enrichment (as permitted under JCPOA) post-2025.