Parties to Iranian Nuclear Deal Meet to Save It
The remaining countries that were signatories to the Iran nuclear deal met in Vienna this week to formulate a way to salvage the agreement, which has unraveled since US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the pact. At that time, the Iranians made a show of flouting the deal in order to emphasize Tehran’s position that the Islamic Republic was no longer bound by the promises. The initiative was spearheaded by the European Union and chaired by Helga Maria Schmid and attended by representatives from the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, France, and China, as well as the deputy foreign minister of Iran. The group assembled fresh from defeating an American effort in the UN Security Council to initiate the “snap-back” provisions of the agreement and extend arms sanctions on Iran. That would have restored sanctions on Iran virtually automatically because Iran has broken its promises set forth in the agreement. The snap-back provisions were of extreme importance in selling the deal in the first place. Opponents of the deal, such as Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, insisted at the time that Iran would break its word but that the international community would lack the gumption to activate the snap-back provision. In rebuffing the US attempt to activate the snap-back provisions, its opponents argued that because the US withdrew from the agreement, Washington lacked status to initiate snap-backs. The Trump Administration argued otherwise but was soundly defeated. As its olive branch, Tehran was willing to allow international nuclear watchdogs to inspect two nuclear sites where clandestine, banned activity was believed to have taken place.