Last week’s roundtable between EU/E3 and Iran resulted in press statements where the EU representatives expressed their support for the implementation of the nuclear deal.
The EU foreign policy chief and the foreign ministers from three EU member states, France, United Kingdom and Germany, showed a common front in defending the deal and calling on the US to respect it.
From that point of view the invited Iranian foreign minister, Jawad Zarif, could be satisfied with the outcome of meeting but he was conspicuously absent from the press briefing. He might not have liked to hear that EU considers the deal effective in achieving its objective of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and that there are other issues which need to be addressed.
“The deal is working; it is delivering on its main goal, which means keeping the Iranian nuclear programme in check and under close surveillance,” EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said at the press briefing last Thursday (11 January).
For the first time EU might also have discussed, albeit briefly, issues with Iran which are outside the nuclear deal.
“While we have expressed concerns related to other issues, such as development of ballistic missiles and increasing tensions in the region, these issues are outside the scope of the nuclear agreement and are and will be addressed in the relevant formats and for fora”, Mogherini said. Referring to the demonstrations against the regime, she also said that “internal recent events in Iran were discussed”.
The EU foreign ministers seemed more concerned than Mogherini about these other regional issues and did not hide the differences with Iran on them. In particular the appalling situation in Yemen was mentioned but also human rights in Iran. These issues need to be addressed as a matter of urgency and, as UK foreign minister Boris Johnson said, in parallel with the nuclear deal.
In the US the administration is facing deadlines every few months regarding the sanctions against Iran. Previously president Trump has decided not to certify the deal but left it to the Congress. Whether or not he decided to listen to EU or not he decided last Friday to continue to respect the deal that he has described as one of the worst deals and to continue to suspend the sanctions.
“This is a last chance,” Trump said ominously, implying that the US is still on a diplomatic collision course with the EU on the nuclear deal with Iran. He decided to impose specific sanctions on Iranian entities that had been involved in the crackdown on the recent demonstrations in Iran.