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U.S. Decision to Respect Iran Deal Obligations Averts Self-Made Crisis But Uncertainty Persists

By J C Suresh

Photo credit: Arms Control Association

TORONTO (IDN) – One day after the European Union reiterated its commitment to support "the full and effective implementation of the agreement" with Iran, the Trump Administration announced on January 12 that it will continue to waive sanctions on the Islamic Republic in accordance with U.S. commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal.

The agreement between the P5+1 countries (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Iran is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"The deal is working; it is delivering on its main goal, which means keeping the Iranian nuclear programme in check and under close surveillance," the European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini said after a meeting with Ministers of Foreign Affairs of E3 countries – France, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Germany, Sigmar Gabriel, and the UK Boris Johnson – and Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif on January 11 in Brussels

"Meeting the U.S. obligation to continue sanctions relief is a common-sense decision that helps ensure that the tough restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and intrusive International Atomic Energy Agency measures will continue to block Iran’s pathways to the bomb for years to come," said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association.

"The deal dodged a bullet today (January 12), but Trump is setting up the United States to violate it down the road," warned Davenport. "Threatening to withhold future sanctions waivers in an attempt to force unilateral changes to the deal is dangerous, jeopardizes the future of the agreement, and creates a schism between the United States and its allies," she added.

"Trump continues to disparage the deal and is pressuring Congress to 'fix' what it sees as flaws in the agreement," noted Davenport. "In the weeks ahead, the administration and the Congress must refrain from imposing new sanctions that violate the JCPOA or seek to unilaterally alter the nuclear restrictions on Iran."

"For example, legislative efforts by the U.S. Congress that automatically reimpose sanctions if Iran does not indefinitely abide by core nuclear restrictions that the JCPOA phases out over time would violate the accord and are strongly opposed by Washington’s negotiating partners," she said.

"The vast majority of nonproliferation and security experts agree that the successful implementation of the JCPOA has effectively neutralized the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapons program," said Thomas Countryman, the chairman of the board of directors of the Arms Control Association and the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation.

"It would have been foolish for President Trump to disrupt a successful nonproliferation agreement that blocks the emergence of a significant new nuclear threat in a tension-filled region and contributes to strengthening the global nonproliferation regime," Countryman argued.

The 28 European Union Member States' Ministers expressed a clear position on the nuclear deal in October 2017. In a joint statement, the Member States said that the JCPOA – "the culmination of 12 years of diplomacy facilitated by the EU" – was "a key element of the nuclear non-proliferation global architecture and crucial for the security of the region".

"It is crucial for the security of the region, but also for the security of Europe. It is in our key strategic security interest as Europeans," the High Representative Mogherini said in Brussels on January 11.

The nuclear agreement with Iran is a multilateral agreement endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231. The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed in nine reports that Iran is fully complying with the commitments made under the agreement.

"The unity of the international community is essential to preserve a deal that is working, that is making the world safer and that is preventing a potential nuclear arms race in the region. And we expect all parties to continue to fully implement this agreement," Mogherini concluded. [IDN-InDepthNews – 12 January 2018]

Photo credit: Arms Control Association

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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