GP Insights # 68, 12 June 2019
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif received his German counterpart Heiko Maas in the capital Tehran on June 10, 2019, for talks on the future of the nuclear deal. Maas said that it was in Iran's "political and strategic interest" to stay in the 2015 nuclear deal. He also went on to say that the deal which has been challenged since the United States unilaterally withdrew from it last year was "extraordinarily important" for Europe and that they cannot work miracles, but they will try to prevent a failure of the nuclear deal. The talks were serious and honest where both sides spoke out their views clearly. Zarif had a different opinion, he reiterated that what the Europeans have done so far has not satisfied their interests. He expects them to act on their commitments but have failed to live up to it. Iran has given Europe, China, and Russia until July to make their commitments operational after which they have said that they would stop complying to the commitments of the nuclear deal.
What is the background?
Iran signed the nuclear deal with China, Russia, Germany, Britain, France, and the United States which allowed for sanctions to be lifted off in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program. However, when President Donald Trump imposed harsh sanctions on Iran and withdrawing from the deal formally tensions began to rise. Iran reacted by stating that they no longer considered the restrictions that we placed by the deal to the limits of stocks of heavy water and enriched.
Since then all the other signatories of the deal have tried to deescalate the situation with Iran. They set up a special trade mechanism called INSTEX that would allow for legitimate trade with Iran to continue without interfering with the US sanctions and went on to promise that they would put an end to strains and struggles in the region and allow the Iranian people to benefit from this economically.
What does it mean?
The other signatories of the deal face the difficulty of implementing their agenda of economic befits promised by the deal because of the US stance. Although Maas’s visit is a positive move on the part of the signatories, it has failed to deliver any potential solution for the issue. This failure by the Europeans has dismayed the Iranian’s hope to stay in the deal. The US sanctions have left Iran’s economy in a devastating position and this pushes them further to pull out of the deal. The mechanism put in place has been highly criticized by the Iranian officials for not resulting in any change.
The situation in the region is highly volatile and any reaction is possible, the increasing rise in tensions could possibly lead to a military escalation which the region does not require this, the signatories of the deal along with Iran thus need to work together to bring a solution to this issue.