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EU Extends Timeline for Dispute Mechanism on Iran Nuclear Deal

EU Extends Timeline for Dispute Mechanism on Iran Nuclear Deal

Friday, 24 January, 2020 - 12:30
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Friday he had extended the time available to discuss ways to save the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran under a dispute mechanism triggered by France, Germany and Britain.

"There is agreement that more time is needed due to the complexity of the issues involved. The timeline is therefore extended," he said in a statement.

On January 14 Borrell was notified by Paris, London and Berlin that they had triggered the dispute mechanism, in theory starting a 15-day process to resolve issues with Iran. However, in practice it is not clear when the 15-day period should start because Iran has not formally recognized the consultation process, officials have said.

Borrell said the joint commission that regulates the Iran nuclear deal will meet in February but did not give a date.

The three European powers triggered the mechanism over Iran’s ongoing violations of the deal.

"We do not accept the argument that Iran is entitled to reduce compliance with the JCPOA (nuclear deal)," they explained, saying they had no choice but to trigger the process that could eventually lead to UN sanctions.

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

Iran had taken a further step back from its commitments to the pact by announcing on Jan. 6 that it would scrap limits on enriching uranium, though it said it would continue cooperating with the UN nuclear watchdog.

In a bid to keep the door open for diplomacy, the three said they were not joining the United States campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran.

Under the deal brokered in 2015, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran agreed with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, to restrict its nuclear program.

But in 2018, US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and re-imposed strict sanctions on Iran. European powers have repeatedly said they still support the deal.

Trump is confident he could still renegotiate a new nuclear deal with Tehran, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said earlier this month after Iran announced it would retreat further from the 2015 nuclear pact.

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