News Analysis: EU capable of making Iran, U.S. return to full compliance with JCPOA


ANALYSTS have said that the European Union (EU) and its foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, have the ability to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by bringing both the United States (U.S.) and Iran to the negotiating table.

In a recent interview with CNN, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Borrell, who is a coordinator of the joint commission on the JCPOA implementation, could play a coordinating role in establishing the Iran-U.S. dialogue on returning to the nuclear deal.

The minister noted that Borrell could kind of “choreograph” actions that should be taken by the two sides.

According to Marc Finaud, the head of arms proliferation at the Geneva Center for Security Policy, Zarif understands the futility of demanding from Washington to lift its sanctions until Tehran fully complies with the deal’s terms, same with Washington’s hope for Iran to make the first move.

“So the only option left is to ensure the simultaneous return to full compliance by both sides,” Finaud said.

A similar position was expressed by Nikolai Sokov, a senior fellow at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nonproliferation, who argued that with both sides being intransigent, a logical way out is for them to return simultaneously.

“Zarif appears to be in search of a way out of the deadlock.

“Since both parties absolutely do not trust each other, they would need a third party to assist them with coordinating their steps and holding both sides politically responsible.

“Thus, Zarif clearly is taking a constructive path,” Sokov said.

Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, mentioned that both sides indicated a willingness to return the deal as it used to be, but was less sanguine about chances to modify it, noting that whatever trust between Tehran and Washington there was, it is now no more.

The expert also stated that U.S. Congress hawks would have additional demands, which would be hard for Iran to swallow.

“There has to be some sort of give-and-take.

“We’ve heard little if anything about what the U.S. might give.

“In the meantime, neither side wants to return to compliance first, insisting that the other side make the first move,” Pollack said.

As both Iran and the U.S. are waiting for the other side to make its first move, the idea of Borrell acting as a coordinator and a good-faith broker does not seem that implausible, especially in light of his efforts to keep the deal afloat amid increasing tensions.

“Yes, he can play this role in his institutional capacity as chair of the Joint Commission, building on the EU’s contribution to the negotiation of the JCPOA.

He has managed until now to preserve the agreement by avoiding escalation of tensions, particularly after the E3 (France, Germany, UK) triggered the dispute settlement mechanism in January 2020,” Finaud stated.

Another important factor is the EU’s unchanged support for the JCPOA and desire to encourage both the US and Iran to return to it, which could induce the Borrell to take the shot at mending the longstanding rift.

“In principle, yes. EU remains interested in the JCPOA and wants both U.S. and Iran to return to it. Europe’s ability to act is limited, however: it de facto abides by U.S. sanctions even though this runs against its own inclinations.

“Zarif gives the EU a chance to fix a very uncomfortable situation.

“Whether Borrell actually accepts that role and succeeds, is a different matter,” Sokov said.

Pollack concurs, adding that as neither side is willing to budge, possible coordination by Brussels is not a bad thing.

“Mediation by the European Commission to coordinate the sequencing of returning to compliance would be welcome,” the researcher concluded. (Sputnik/NAN)


– Feb 04, 2021 @ 11:00 GMT

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