Germany, France and the United Kingdom have launched a formal dispute mechanism against Iran which could end up putting international sanctions on the regime. The measure was announced on Tuesday following recent Iranian violations of the 2015 nuclear deal. The dispute will now be brought before a Joint Commission made up of Iran, Russia, China, the three European signatories, and the European Union. If the panel fails to resolve the dispute, the matter will then come before the United Nations Security Council.

Even if the process gets stalled at the UN, Iran could end up facing comprehensive international sanctions — in addition to the current U.S. sanctions, media reports suggest. “If the Security Council does not vote within 30 days to continue sanctions relief, sanctions in place under previous UN resolutions would be reimposed – known as a “snapback”,” British newspaper The Telegraph reported.

Tehran formally abandon the nuclear deal last Sunday by announcing its plans to scrap the limits on enriching uranium put in place by the international agreement, Iranian state TV confirmed. The move brings Tehran within striking distance of procuring sufficient weapons-grade uranium needed for a nuclear arsenal. The regime already possesses advanced missile delivery systems capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Tehran dismissed the European decision to take it before an international panel as a “passive” move. “The Islamic Republic of Iran, as in the past, has complete readiness to support any (act of) goodwill and constructive effort to save this important international agreement,” an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.

Reuters reported the measure taken by the UK, France and Germany, also collectively known as the E3 signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal:

France, Britain and Germany confirmed on Tuesday that they had triggered the dispute mechanism in the Iran nuclear deal given Tehran’s ongoing violations, but said they were not joining the United States campaign to exert maximum pressure on Tehran.

“We do not accept the argument that Iran is entitled to reduce compliance with the JCPoA [Iran Nuclear Deal],” the three countries said in a joint statement, saying they had no choice but to trigger the process that could eventually lead to U.N. sanctions.

“Instead of reversing course, Iran has chosen to further reduce compliance.”

Iran took a further step back from its commitments to the 2015 pact, with six world powers, by announcing on Jan. 6 that it would scrap limits on enriching uranium, though it said it would continue cooperating with the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

“We do this in good faith with the overarching objective of preserving the JCPoA and in the sincere hope of finding a way forward to resolve the impasse through constructive diplomatic dialogue, while preserving the agreement and remaining within its framework,” they said.

The announcement comes days after the three European powers expressed their support for the nuclear deal. “[W]e remain committed to the JCPoA and to preserving it,” the leaders of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom said in a joint statement on January 12.

The announcement comes almost a week after U.S. President Donald Trump urged the European allies to “break away from the remnants” of the agreement. “The very defective JCPOA  [Iran nuclear deal] expires shortly anyway, and gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear [weapon] breakout. The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China to recognize this reality,” the U.S. President said last Wednesday in his speech in response to the Iranian missile attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.

[Cover image via YouTube]

[Author’s note: Portions of this post, including the title, were reworked in light of new development of European governemnts triggering the dispute mechanism]


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