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UK, France, Germany pull diplomatic trigger on Iran deal dispute

EPA-EFE//STEPHANIE LECOCQ
Iranian opposition activists, members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, hold a rally in Brussels on January 10, 2020 urging the EU to reimpose UN Security Council sanction on Tehran.

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Nearly a week after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing everyone on board, France, Germany and the UK informed the European Commission on Tuesday that they were given “no choice” but to trigger a diplomatic “dispute mechanism” that was included in the 2015  Iran nuclear deal, after the Islamic Republic announced that it would no longer comply with the agreement after the United States imposed a new round of sanctions against Tehran for the downing of Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752.
 
“We have been left with no choice, given Iran’s actions, but to register today our concerns that Tehran is not meeting its commitments under the JCPoA (the Iran nuclear deal) and to refer this matter to the Joint Commission under the Dispute Resolution Mechanism”, said UK’s Foreign Office.
The mechanism, set out in article 36 of the deal, involves the dispute being referred to a Joint Commission that will have a minimum of 15 days to resolve the issue.
If the complainants are still not satisfied, they can refer the matter to the UN Security Council, which could vote to reimpose any sanctions lifted under the deal.
The three European powers, known as E3, made clear that their move, which could lead to the return of UN sanctions, is not an endorsement of the US’ “maximum pressure” policy against the Islamic Republic, despite accusations from Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, that the move by the E3 supports American interests.
Since the US announced their unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPoA, in May 2018, the deal’s European signatories have been trying to rescue the nuclear deal.
“In addition to the lifting of all sanctions, required by our commitments under the agreement, we have worked tirelessly to support legitimate trade with Iran, including through the INSTEX special purpose vehicle,” said the E3 statement said, adding “Under the current situation, it is more important than ever to keep hold of the instruments that serve to promote security. In this context, the JCPoA remains crucial,” said Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief.
Moscow sees “no grounds” for such a move, Iran denounces the decision
Russia, a close ally of Iran and also a signatory to the deal along with China, stressed that this could lead to a new escalation and claiming that Tehran has done nothing to warrant the triggering of the dispute mechanism.
“We cannot endorse the hasty decision made by the ‘European 3’. This will initiate a new escalation around the accord and make the return of the nuclear deal, within the original framework, impossible, despite this being the stated goal of the three European countries,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Rouhani denounced the E3’s decision to officially accuse Iran of breaking the 2015 agreement. “You will suffer if you make the wrong move,” a defiant Rouhani was quoted as saying by Iran’s state-run news agency, Press TV.
“The usage of the dispute mechanism is legally baseless and a strategic mistake from a political standpoint,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif added
Recent developments in the downing of PS752
Recent evidence from a security camera footage showed two missiles, not one as has been admitted by the Revolutionary Guard, were fired when Flight 752 was shot down. The video shows that the Russian-made surface-to-air missiles were fired 30 seconds apart from a military site around 10 kilometres from where the plane was flying.
The Iranian military described the strike as “accidental” and claimed that the aircraft was incorrectly identified as a cruise missile flying over Tehran.

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