Flashpoints | Security

UK, France, Germany Invoke Iran Deal Dispute Resolution Mechanism

The decision follows warnings from the European countries amid Iran’s steps to reduce compliance with the 2015 agreement.

UK, France, Germany Invoke Iran Deal Dispute Resolution Mechanism
Credit: CC0 image via Pixabay

On Tuesday, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany — the so-called ‘E3’ in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program — announced that they had referred concerns over Iran’s recent steps to reduce its compliance with certain parts of the agreement by invoking the Dispute Resolution Mechanism.

“We do not accept the argument that Iran is entitled to reduce compliance with the JCPoA. Contrary to its statements, Iran has never triggered the JCPoA Dispute Resolution Mechanism and has no legal grounds to cease implementing the provisions of the agreement,” the three countries said in a statement.

“We have therefore been left with no choice, given Iran’s actions, but to register today our concerns that Iran is not meeting its commitments under the JCPoA and to refer this matter to the Joint Commission under the Dispute Resolution Mechanism, as set out in paragraph 36 of the JCPoA,” the statement added.

Earlier this month, Iran announced its fifth measure since May 2019 to reduce its compliance with parts of the JCPOA. It said that it would cease observing limits on the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges it was permitted to operate.

Last year, Iran announced that it would cease complying with parts of the JCPOA. It has since taken five steps concerning its uranium enrichment capabilities, exceeding what is permissible under the terms of the agreement.

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Apart from the United States, Iran, and the E3, Russia and China were also originally involved in negotiations toward the agreement, which saw the imposition of verified limits on Iran’s civil nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief from Tehran. Apart from the United States, all other original JCPOA negotiating parties remain in the agreement.

The E3 statement on Tuesday noted that the action to invoke the Dispute Resolution Mechanism was being taken in “good faith with the overarching objective of preserving” the agreement.

The Dispute Resolution Mechanism, described in paragraph 36 of the JCPOA, sets up a period of potentially 65 days where, failing a resolution, United Nations sanctions that had been lifted on Iran could “snap back” into place. The mechanism was originally envisioned to prevented Iranian noncompliance with the agreement’s technical requirements.

In December, the E3 said they had “made clear to Iran that unless it reversed course, we would have no choice but to take action within the framework of the JCPoA, including through the Dispute Resolution Mechanism.”

Their statement Tuesday concluded that “Given recent events, it is all the more important that we do not add a nuclear proliferation crisis to the current escalation threatening the whole region.”