Iran’s recent declaration that it would break uranium enrichment limits does not only lead to the unravelling of the 2015 nuclear agreement, but it also reveals the embarrassing situation of European Union’s foreign policy when it wants to be independent of the US.
Despite EU opposition, US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear agreement last year and imposed the maximum economic sanctions on Iran. Since then, the EU has been trying to find solutions to come out of this dilemma.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out during a recent speech to the lower house of parliament that the EU had decided to uphold the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and would keep trying to find solutions that averted escalation. Reuters reported that Merkel believes it is the duty of EU countries to continue with finding solutions to the Iranian crisis in order prevent an escalation of tensions in a globally sensitive region. Until now, European efforts to counter Trump and preserve the deal have been in vain.
The US-backed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFEFL) noted that while the EU wants to avoid an escalation, Iran has to realise that it is in its own interests to remain committed to the nuclear deal. "Our hand remains outstretched at this point; we want to continue to push for a diplomatic solution," Merkel said.
According to RFEFL, French President Emmanuel Macron sees the 2015 deal which hinders Iran's nuclear ambitions as "a good agreement" but one that should be pushed through with others governing Iran's missile development and its potentially destabilising role in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the three main EU powers of Britain, France, and Germany have issued a joint statement urging Iran to respect the 2015 deal.
According to this statement, the three EU powers refuse any threats as they will evaluate Iran's performance regarding its abidance by the nuclear deal.
Iran meanwhile said its recent stance is based on the re-imposition of US sanctions since its withdrawal from the agreement in 2018. The maximum pressure which the US is using against Iran has seriously affected its economy.
However, the EU powers are unhappy at the re-imposition of sanctions and are still determined to exert further efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran.
RFEFL stated the three countries were "determined to continue pursuing efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran" in an effort to keep the deal afloat, the statement added.
According to Reuters, Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani vowed that Iran will not change its policy of resistance as long as the US refuses to lift its economic sanctions. Iran also stated while insisting on the lifting of sanctions, the US should stay away from hawks in order to improve mutual relations, especially following the departure of John Bolton, the White House National Security Adviser.
According to DW news, Bolton’s dismissal does not necessarily lead to a resumption of negotiations with the US, for as long as the US sanctions are imposed there is no room for returning to the negotiating table.