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CWA # 137, 22 June 2019

Middle East
Iran, US and the Nuclear deal: Europe in the middle?

  Titsala Sangtam

Iran calls Europe, especially France and Germany, to solve its economic problems brought by the nuclear deal and US sanctions. However, Trumps wants Europe to join hands with US where both can completely stop the Tehran nuclear program and limit its missile development programs and its regional ambitions

On 17 June 2019, Iran announced that they will breach the limit on its Uranium stockpiled within 10 days and also start enriching Uranium to 20 percent, closer to the development of weapon-grade beginning from 7 July, (Uranium an essential elements of the Iran nuclear deal), if Europe (France, United Kingdom, and Germany) does not agree with them and take back the sanctions.  

Iran calls Europe, especially France and Germany, to solve its economic problems brought by the nuclear deal and US sanctions. However, Trumps wants Europe to join hands with US where both can completely stop the Tehran nuclear program and limit its missile development programs and its regional ambitions. 

The US responded to it by sending 1,000 troops to the Middle East region as to counter the threats from Tehran and said that Iran would not be allowed to develop its nuclear weapons.

A Brief History & Current Tensions
20 January 2014, UN nuclear inspectors doubted and announced Iran on enriching high levels of Uranium where this lead to suspension of Iran by European Union, negotiations and deals. Tehran nuclear agreement known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) started in 2015 during the Barrack Obama administration. This agreement was signed between Iran and the P5+1(China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). On this deal, Iran agreed to limit its Uranium production.

However, on May 2018, US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal because the deal only covered Iran’s nuclear program, Iran also ignored the agreement that was signed between P5+ 1 countries and also it ignores to the support terrorism, environmental deterioration, and dreadful human rights trace. So, the US thinks that sticking to the deal is of no use. Thus, the US pulled out of the agreement and argued that they want a better deal. Later, the US started to re-impose economic sanctions on Iran and threatened the five nations as well as other large oil importers like India and China of sanctions if they continue business with Iran.   Thus, successfully cutting off Iran’s oil import.

On Thursday, 13 June 2019, two oil tankers, the Japanese - owned Kokuka Courageous which is believed to transporting methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore and the former Norwegian - owned tanker Front Altair, carrying Taiwan cargo about 75,000 tonnes of naphtha from United Arab Emirates to Taiwan  has been attacked in the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz. This incident has increased more tensions between the two countries.

On Friday, 14 June 2019, the Pentagon released evidence of a grainy video which shows a small boat that described the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Gashti Class patrol boat was unloading unexploited limpet mine from the Kokoku Courageous tank to hide the evidence that left was behind. The US claimed Iran responsible for the Thursday attack but Iran denied it. In a conference held in Tajikistan, President of Iran Hassani Rouhani said that he will keep on pushing the 2015 nuclear deal until other  countries like Germany, France, Russian, China, and Britain  gives positive signals by  agreeing  to restore the  nuclear deal as it was before and  said  that they would not stick to the US decision. On 17 June 2019, Iran announced that they would breach the nuclear deal by enriching Uranium if the European does not agree with them. The US responded by sending its troops to the Middle East and said that Iran would not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

A role for Europe?
Iran wants the European countries to join and agree with them on its new negotiations regarding enriching Uranium to restore it as it was before. Tensions are escalating not only between the US and Iran but also between the US and Europe. Germany and France have invested in Iran; they are stakeholders and now are trying hard to fix a new nuclear deal. 

Iran’s new move to stockpile Uranium beyond the limit set by the previous deal is to pressurize Europe to come up with a good deal as soon as possible. So, in this situation, what can Europeans do or how can they respond to it?  In this condition, either Europe will try to negotiate with Iran, or if the situation does not go well, then they will be forced to support military intervention by the USA. 

Right now- amidst high tension, any small mistake can trigger war resulting in the collapse of a deal. Delays in negotiation from the European side may push Iran towards further breach of previous contracts, which can tip the scale off towards a war. Any war in the region is going to be detrimental, as no party is yet openly espousing military measure, things can be expected to stay hot and tensed for the time being without any significant move from either side on the military front. 
 

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