The lifting of economic sanctions against Iran remains an essential part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) and its signatories are committed to expanding the special purpose vehicle that enables European businesses to maintain trade with the country, according to the European Commission’s foreign affairs spokesperson Peter Stano.
In an interview with the Tehran Times published on 20 October, Stano referred to remarks Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, had made to the European Parliament on 7 October. Borrell said Iran had “legitimate expectations that the nuclear deal would result in more concrete economic benefits”.
The E3 – France, Germany and the UK – triggered the JCPoA’s dispute resolution mechanism in January, following Iran’s further steps away from its commitments. In June, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted a resolution calling on Iran to cooperate fully in implementing its NPT Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol.
In August, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi held talks with Iranian officials on access for IAEA inspectors to the country’s nuclear sites. His visit to Tehran followed the US Administration’s request to the UN Security Council to initiate the ‘snapback’ mechanism of the Iran nuclear deal. This mechanism allows a party to the agreement to seek the re-imposition against Iran of the multilateral sanctions lifted in 2015 in accordance with resolution 2231. The USA withdrew from the JCPoA in May 2018.
Stano told the Tehran Times that the EU considers the extraterritorial application of unilateral restrictive measures to be contrary to international law.
“The lifting of sanctions is an essential part of the JCPoA agreement,” he said. “In this regard, the EU fulfilled its commitments and lifted all its economic and financial sanctions in connection with the Iranian nuclear programme. Furthermore, the EU member states sitting in the UN Security Council prevented the US efforts to use the so-called ‘snapback’ and re-introduce UN sanctions that were lifted as a result of the JCPoA.”
The EU had taken “a series of concrete actions”, he said, including updating its Blocking Statute in August 2018 and, the following year, setting up INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges). In addition, the European Commission recently launched two online platforms to support European economic operators “to engage in legitimate trade with Iran”.
“This underscores the continued EU commitment to the full and effective implementation of the JCPoA,” Stano said, adding that the first transactions under INSTEX are being processed. “The number of participants of INSTEX is not shrinking; quite to the contrary, there are more European countries joining, with more to follow.”