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Britain, Germany, and France have made the decision to retain a range of sanctions on Iran that were set to expire next month. This move comes in response to concerns over Tehran’s expansion of its nuclear program. The “E3” nations, which signed the Iran nuclear deal, deem this decision to be “legitimate and proportionate” due to Iran’s actions to advance its nuclear program beyond civilian justification.
The UK stated that Iran was not meeting its obligations under the 2015 deal to reduce the scale of its nuclear activities in exchange for sanction relief. Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat and coordinator of talks between Iran and western powers, was informed of the decision by the three countries. He stated that they expressed concerns about Iran’s failure to fulfill its commitments and their intent to keep the current sanctions in place.
The original agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), stated that a variety of UN, EU, and UK sanctions would be lifted eight years after its implementation, which would be on October 18.
However, tensions arose over the nuclear accord when former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it and imposed multiple sanctions on Iran. Prior to Trump’s withdrawal, Iran had complied with the agreement. The E3 nations opposed Trump’s decisions and remained signatories to the JCPOA.
Nevertheless, they have grown increasingly concerned about Iran’s expansion of its nuclear program in response to Trump’s actions. Iran has started enriching uranium close to weapons-grade levels and has further fueled tensions by selling armed drones to Moscow, which were used in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Due to Iran’s continued non-compliance with the nuclear deal and its escalation of nuclear activities, the UN sanctions will now be adopted into the domestic sanctions regimes of the E3 nations. Additionally, the EU and UK sanctions currently in place will be upheld.
The Iranian regime has exceeded the JCPOA’s limit on enriched uranium stockpiles by over 18 times and has also developed advanced centrifuges.
Iran’s foreign ministry has condemned the decision to retain sanctions, warning that it will negatively impact relations and mutual cooperation aimed at reviving the nuclear deal.
The UK Foreign Office emphasized the commitment to a diplomatic solution and preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Despite Iran’s non-compliance and the US’s withdrawal, European officials reject the notion that the Iran nuclear deal is defunct.
Borrell affirmed his dedication to restoring the JCPOA and fully implementing the deal.
Meanwhile, the US and Iran are on the verge of finalizing a prisoner exchange deal, which the US hopes will ease tensions. As part of the deal, Iran has moved four US nationals from prison to house arrest, and the US has agreed to grant Iran access to $6 billion of its frozen oil money held in South Korea. The agreement also entails the release of five American detainees from Iran, with a reciprocal release of Iranian prisoners by the US expected.
The US and Iran have also been engaged in indirect discussions to contain the nuclear crisis, including the possibility of Iran capping its production of highly enriched uranium.
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