Britain, France, and Germany ratcheted up pressure on Iran to cease its violations of a landmark nuclear deal, stressing that they want to resolve differences through talks while starting the clock on a process that could result in a so-called “snapback” of United Nations sanctions.

The reason behind such a stance

  • The three countries, which signed the international agreement in 2015 along with the U.S., Russia, and Chinasaid in a letter to the European Union’s foreign policy chief that they had no choice but to trigger the deal’s “dispute mechanism,” given Iran’s ongoing transgressions.
  • The three said they rejected Tehran’s argument that Iran was justified in violating the deal because the U.S. broke the agreement by pulling out unilaterally in 2018.
  • However, pressure on Iran from Europe does not mean sanctions will automatically be slapped on the Islamic Republic (EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell).
  • The Europeans stressed that they want to resolve the impasse through constructive diplomatic dialogue and made no threat of sanctions in their statement. 
  • They also specifically distanced themselves from sanctions imposed by the U.S., which Washington has said is part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran. As they hope to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments.

Iran’s Response

Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the “completely passive action” of the three countries and said Iran would support any act of “goodwill and constructive effort” to save the deal.

The 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) seeks to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon — something Iran insists it does not want to do — by putting curbs on its atomic program in exchange for economic incentives.

Under its dispute resolution mechanism, countries have 30 days to resolve their problem, though that can be extended. If it cannot be solved, the matter could be brought before the U.N. Security Council and could then result in the snapback of sanctions that had been lifted under the deal.

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