Ball in Europe’s Court as Iran Adopts Wait-and-See Approach to Nuke Deal
Iran claims it will refrain from taking further steps away from its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal until talks are held with European parties that last week triggered the accord’s dispute resolution mechanism in response to Iranian violations. The move effectively places the ball in the courts of Britain, France and Germany, which, after invoking the clause, nevertheless reiterated in a joint statement their desire to salvage the deal from which US President Donald Trump withdrew in May 2018. However, cracks may be appearing in Europe’s previously united front, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson having recently left open the possibility of pursuing “the Trump deal.” Johnson’s comments were construed as a possible indication that London could be more closely aligning its Iran policy with that of Washington ahead of Britain’s anticipated exit from the European Union. Notably, the decision by European powers came on the backdrop of confirmed reports that President Trump had threatened to impose a 25% tariff on the import of cars manufactured in Europe if continental powers continued to back the nuclear pact. Earlier this month, Iranian leaders announced they would no longer abide by any of the deal’s restrictions on uranium enrichment. It was the latest in a series of escalating steps taken by the Islamic Republic, which over the past six months upped the quantity of its low-level enriched uranium stockpile; began producing the substance to a higher level of purity; and restarted nuclear activities at its controversial underground Fordow facility.