“The European Union will continue to work for the respect and implementation of this extremely important deal,” Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative for security and foreign policy, said before an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
The bloc was committed to the accord, “most of all for our security” she said. “It is proof that diplomacy works and delivers.”
The agreement was signed between the Islamic Republic on the one side and the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China, plus Germany, on the other in Vienna on July 14, 2015. The EU acted as the coordinator for the negotiations that culminated in the deal.
It lifted a raft of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran and set certain limits on the Iranian nuclear program in return.
All of the six countries that negotiated the deal with Iran have voiced commitment to it. Recently though, there has been concern that the incoming administration of Donald Trump, a former business tycoon who has been elected US president, may breach the deal or stop implementing US commitments under it altogether.
Trump, whose foreign policy remains largely undefined and who has been making impulsive pronouncements on world matters mainly on Twitter, has threatened to “tear up” the Iran deal, calling it a “disaster” and “the worst deal ever negotiated.” A circle of his advisers and nominees for top posts, however, have struck a more cautious tone while speaking about the future US administration’s policy toward the pact. Trump, himself, has also once lamented that European businesses are, according to him, profiting more as a result of the deal than American enterprises.
Mogherini had said previously, too, that in the event of a US breach, the EU would retain an independent course and remain true to the Iran deal.
Iran has fulfilled all its obligations under the deal, as verified by the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA), which is tasked with monitoring the technical implementation of the accord.
But on Sunday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said that if Trump went ahead with his threat to tear up the deal, Iran would burn it, echoing earlier remarks by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
Also raising alarm about a potential violation by the US was a move by the US Congress to reauthorize Washington’s sanctions law against Iran, known as the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), in December 2016. The outgoing administration of US President Barack Obama, which negotiated the deal along with the other P5+1 members with Iran, was critical of the Act. While the White House did allow it to become law, it did so with a rare maneuver that saw Obama not signing it and allowing it to automatically pass.
Iran complained that the ratification of the ISA was a breach of the nuclear deal and took the matter to the Joint Commission monitoring the implementation of the accord, where the Islamic Republic secured promises from the US side to apply “waivers” to the part of the Act affecting the deal.
Meanwhile, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who was about to join Mogherini at the ministerial meeting, also said the nuclear accord must be sustained.
“It is a deal which we think has great merit and we want to keep going,” he said.