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27.11.2019 Europe

France hints at new Iran sanctions

REUTERS/Mehr News Agency/Majid Asgaripour
NOV 27, 2019 EUROPE
REUTERS/Mehr News Agency/Majid Asgaripour

France has threatened Wednesday to trigger a mechanism within the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that could lead to the reinstatement of UN sanctions. The remarks come after Iran violated its part of the deal four times since May this year.

“Every two months, there's another notch,” says French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, asking the question if the “treaty's dispute resolution mechanism” should be invoked.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal that Iran  signed on 14 July 2015 with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, reduced sanctions on Iran, provided that Tehran would limit its nuclear enrichment program.

According to Article 36 of the deal, if any of the three European partners (France, Germany and the UK) to the deal “believed that Iran was not meeting its commitments under this JCPOA,” the question will by referred to a Joint Commission, which must decide within 15 days if the matter should be brought before the UN Security Council for a vote on a possible re-imposition of sanctions.

Maximum pressure
Iran started to move away from the JCPOA in May this year, one year after President Donald Trump unilaterally stepped out of the deal, re-imposing US sanctions and starting the US "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran.

Tehran first announced plans to exceed the JCPOA's 300-kilogram limit on low-enriched uranium stockpiles. In July, the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran said it was enriching uranium-235 beyond the JCPOA limit of 3.67% to about 4.5%.

In September, Iran said it started work on advanced centrifuges, which spin at supersonic speed to purify uranium. Another two months later, on November 5, Iran unveiled 15 advanced IR-6 centrifuges capable of enriching uranium ten times faster than the first-generation centrifuges. All steps constitute violations of the JCPOA.

Iran counters that Washington was the first to violate the JCPOA, and according to Iran's Mehr News Agency, Tehran “demands European countries make up for its losses after the US withdrawal from the accord in May 2018, and help Tehran with its oil sales and banking relations,” pointing out that “the European signatories to the deal have not taken any substantial step towards implementing their share of JCPOA obligations so far and have succumbed to the US pressures instead.”