May 1, 2020
In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL on Thursday, the EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said the United States can no longer be considered as a participating member of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.
In May 2018 President Trump officially withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Iran — officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — which was negotiated by former President Barack Obama.
Commenting on U.S. attempts to extend an arms embargo against Iran given that the United States is no longer a party to the deal, the EU Foreign Policy Chief said: “It’s clear that in the statement by President Trump and the U.S. presidential memorandum of last May, they announced that he was ending his participation in JCPOA”.
“And I also want to recall that the U.S. has not participated in any meetings of activities within the framework of this agreement since then. So it’s quite clear for us that the U.S. are no longer a participating member in this agreement,” Borrell added.
The ban on selling conventional weapons to Iran under the Security Council’s Resolution 2231 that blessed the nuclear agreement will be lifted on October 18, 2020. The Trump administration has vowed to use all means available to reverse that and extend the U.N. arms embargo in October.
“We’re not going to let that happen,” the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news conference on April 29 and added: “In the event we can’t get anyone else to act, the United States is evaluating every possibility about how we might do that.”
Borrell said the United States has a right to call for an arms embargo, like any other U.N. member, if they wish.
Pointing out that the 2015 nuclear agreement stipulated that the U.N. arms embargo on Iran would be lifted five years later, Borrell said any member of the U.N. Security Council can go to the Security Council and propose another measure. “let’s see what the Security Council decides then,” he said.
The United States may only count on gaining the support of France, Britain and Germany – the three European sides of the JCPOA. China and particularly Russia — the other two parties to the JCPOA — which stand to win major new arms contracts with Iran, are certain to oppose an extension of the embargo. They only agreed to the five-year ban in 2015 as a compromise reached with the Obama administration and if the issue is referred to the Security Council are certain to oppose an extension of the embargo.
Regarding the European Union’s approach towards Iran during the coronavirus crisis and the call for sanctions relief and offering a significant sum in humanitarian aid to Iran as well as concerns about how to establish certainty that the money will not be used by Iran to finance proxy wars the EU Foreign Policy Chief said he personally advocates giving aid to Iran and supports Iran’s application to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $5 billion loan to combat coronavirus.
“As for the terms of any possible loan, this is the matter for the IMF in line with established procedures to ensure the effective use of such support. It is not the first time that the IMF gives financial assistance with conditionality and they have their ways and means to ensure effective use of the support they have granted,” Mr. Borrell added.