Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) –
The European Union announced yesterday that today, Friday, Iran will meet by video with the current signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal or Joint Collective Plan of Action (JCPOA) with a view toward returning the parties to compliance. The US under Trump withdrew in May, 2018.
The Biden administration welcomed the move. Biden says he wants the US and Iran to resume their full adherence to the 2015 treaty, but has continued the Trump economic and financial blockade on Iran, crippling its economy.
A recent opinion poll conducted in Iran and in the US by IranPoll found that “About six in ten Americans favor US participation in a nuclear deal with Iran and half of Iranians (51%) approve of the JCPOA.” But 69% of Iranians want to return to observing the stipulations of the JCPOA if the US drops its sanctions. This, even though 60% of Iranians think the US will just violate the treaty again, as it did under Trump. Only 28% of Iranians, however, are willing to see other issues added for negotiation to the nuclear file, such as Iran’s ballistic missile program.
A previous attempt at a meeting fell through because the US was invited, but Iran would not meet with the Americans unless they lifted the financial and economic blockade that Trump imposed. Iran gave up 80% of its civilian nuclear enrichment program in 2015 and adhered to its treaty obligations until 2019 — even though it never got the sanctions relief it was promised because the US Republican Party threatened the rest of the world with third party sanctions if they invested in Iran. This was so, even though Iran was certified by the UN inspectors as in compliance.
Deutsche Welle reports that European Union Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell said that the discussions would concentrate on “the prospect of a possible return of the United States” to the agreement and the “full and effective implementation of the agreement by all contracting parties,” Britain France, China, Russia and Germany will join the video conference.
Germany, France and Britain spoke to Iran on Monday. The French foreign ministry said that the Western European states would coordinate carefully with Russia and China with an eye to exiting the current impasse.
DW says it has learned that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Iran in mid-April and speak in Tehran with his counterpart Javad Zarif about the nuclear deal, among other issues. Russia has stood by the JCPOA and behind the scenes has helped Iran evade the US financial blockade.
IRNA reports that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made remarks about the ongoing issue of the US return to the nuclear deal, pointing out that it is Iran that has borne the heaviest burden in this entire process. He observed, “All those throughout the world today who say that the JCPOA is the foremost political agreement and everyone is proud of it, should know that the heavy burden of this deal has been borne by the great nation of Iran.”
He pointed out that the US has waged economic war on Iran (Washington is preventing Iran from ordinary commerce such as selling oil and preventing investment in Iran from the outside, even interfering with humanitarian aid). Rouhani said “We were not the initiators of this war. Even after this war was imposed on us, we fulfilled all our obligations for a year, which is the greatest moral, political and historical pride of the Iranian nation.” He said that only when a full year had passed after the US breach of the treaty and the imposition of the financial and economic blockade did Iran begin reducing its adherence..
Rouhani continued: “Today, it is the turn of the P5 + 1 to do their duty in these circumstances and to know that every day of delay is to their detriment.” He urged the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany to implement UNSC Resolution 2231 as quickly as possible.