(AFP) -Britain, France and Germany have proposed new European Union sanctions on Iran over its missile program and its regional role, a confidential document says.
The joint paper was sent to EU capitals on Friday to sound out support for such sanctions as they would need the backing of all 28 member states of the bloc, Reuters quoted two people familiar with the matter as saying.
“We will therefore be circulating in the coming days a list of persons and entities that we believe should be targeted in view of their publicly demonstrated roles,” the document said.
The proposal is allegedly part of an EU strategy to appease US President Donald Trump and preserve the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015 amid constant US threats to withdraw from it.
Trump has repeatedly described the JCPOA, which was negotiated under his predecessor, Barack Obama, as “the worst and most one-sided transaction Washington has ever entered into,” a characterization he often used during his presidential campaign, and threatened to tear it up.
He delivered a 120-day ultimatum to America’s European allies on January 12 that they must agree to “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal” or he would refuse to extend US sanctions relief on Iran and would pull out of the deal.
The US under Trump has been seeking a revision of the deal and making modifications to it, such as the inclusion of Iran’s missile program in the agreement.
The document said London, Paris and Berlin were engaged in “intensive talks” with the Trump administration to “achieve a clear and lasting reaffirmation of US support for the agreement beyond May 12.”
Diplomats said the European powers and the United States held several rounds of talks this week on the issue.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday warned the United States against the “painful mistake” of pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.
“Considering what has been envisaged in the JCPOA in the field of research and development and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s continued measures to develop its peaceful nuclear capability, if the US makes the mistake of exiting the JCPOA, it will definitely be a painful mistake for the Americans,” Zarif told reporters upon his arrival in Tehran from the Kazakh capital of Astana.
Meanwhile, the JCPOA signatories held a new round of their periodic meetings in the Austrian city of Vienna on Friday to review the deal’s implementation.
Reacting to reports about the sanctions proposal by the EU, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who was representing Iran at the Vienna talks, said any new sanctions that undermine the nuclear accord will go against the Europeans’ pledges at the commission’s meeting. He noted that any such move to appease the US will be a big mistake that will affect the very existence of the nuclear agreement.
Under US pressure, certain European countries, especially France, have recently raised claims about what they alleged to be Iran’s destabilizing role in the region and also urged for a halt to the Islamic Republic’s missile program. Iran has dismissed such accusations and calls.
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the US, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the nuclear agreement on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.
Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.
Trump on Tuesday fired Rex Tillerson as secretary of state after a series of public rifts over policy. Tillerson’s departure had long been anticipated due to the clashes.
The US president said he and Tillerson had disagreed on many topics, but he specifically singled out their dispute on whether or not to stay in the Iran nuclear deal.
At the end of the 8th meeting of the Joint Commission since the JCPOA Implementation Day, the participants issued a statement on Friday reiterating the need for continued implementation of nuclear-related sanctions-lifting to allow for the effective realization of the benefits envisioned under the JCPOA, particularly licenses concerning commercial passenger aircraft.
It added that the Vienna meeting also discussed the implementation of Annex III of the JCPOA on civil-nuclear cooperation, and welcomed the work done by a number of participants with Iran in this regard.
“All participants noted their continued adherence to JCPOA commitments and stressed the need to ensure its effective implementation in all its parts in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere,” the statement said.
It pointed to the 10th report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – the body charged with monitoring and verifying Iran’s compliance with its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and UN Security Council Resolution 2231 – and said the parties welcomed the fact that the IAEA has again confirmed Iran’s continued adherence to these commitments.
According to the terms of the JCPOA, the Joint Commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the nuclear accord.