European powers should maintain sanctions to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions

In response to growing concerns about Tehran’s nuclear program, Britain, Germany, and France announced that they would not be removing a number of sanctions against Iran, which were due to expire at the end of next month.

The UK stated on Thursday that the decision taken by the “E3”, or the three nations who signed the agreement, was “legitimate and appropriate” in response to Iran’s efforts to advance its nuclear program “beyond any credible civilian justification”.

The three countries informed Josep Borell, the EU chief diplomat, and co-ordinator for talks between Iranand Western powers, about their decision, on the grounds that Tehran did not meet its obligations pursuant to a 2015 agreement, which required it to reduce its nuclear activities as a condition of sanctions relief.

Borrell stated on Thursday that “they had expressed their concern that Iran did not meet its commitments.” “They have expressed their intention not to lift further sanctions.”

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, was agreed upon in 2015. It stated that eight years would pass after the implementation of the plan, which falls on October 18th.

Sanctions were imposed on those individuals and entities involved in Iran’s missile and nuclear programmes, as well as other weapons programs.

Iran and the West are locked in a standoff over the Nuclear Agreement since the former US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned the accord and imposed waves on sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Iran had been in compliance with the agreement prior to Trump’s departure. The E3 were against his decision and signed the JCPOA.

They are increasingly worried about the growth of Iran’s nuclear program after Tehran increased its atomic activity in response to Trump’s actions.

Now, it is enriching uranium to levels close to those used in weapons. The West has also been outraged at Iran’s decision to sell armed drones to Moscow.

The E3 agreed that Iran’s continued breach of its obligations under the nuclear agreement and its escalation in its nuclear program meant that UN sanctions would transfer to their own domestic sanctions regimes and that EU and UK sanctions that they already have would be maintained.

The Iranian regime has enriched uranium stocks that are 18 times higher than the limit set by JCPOA. It also installed and built advanced centrifuges.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has rejected the decision to maintain sanctions, calling it unacceptable. It warned that this would negatively impact on mutual cooperation and complicate the relations aimed at reviving the nuclear agreement.

The ministry stated that “Iran will respond proportionately to this illegal, provocative act, which is an egregious violation of the JCPOA, and UN Security Council Resolution 223 [that endorsed the JCPOA] and European Union, France Germany and UK commitments.”

The Foreign Office, London, said: “The UK remains committed to a diplomatic resolution but Iran must take clear steps toward de-escalation.” We are committed in preventing Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

European officials refuse to call the Iran nuclear agreement a failure, despite Tehran not complying with its terms or the US withdrawal in 2018.

Borrell stated on Thursday that, despite E3’s decision, he was “fully committed” and would spare no effort to restore the JCPOA, and resume the full implementation of this deal.

The European decision coincides with the US and Iran moving closer to finalizing a exchange of prisoners that Washington hopes will help ease tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Iran released four US citizens from prison and placed them under house arrest last month as part of an agreement in which the US agreed to give Iran access to its $6bn oil money frozen in South Korea. Iran will allow five US prisoners to leave its country under the agreement, and Washington is expected to free a similar amount of Iranian prisoners.

Indirectly, the US and Iran also discussed de-escalation strategies to contain the nuclear crises. This included the Islamic Republic agreeing to limit its production of highly-enriched uranium.

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