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Europe Looking For A Compromise On Iran Arms Embargo Issue

A United Nations Security Council Meeting in 2019. FILE PHOTO

European diplomats want to find a way to reach a compromise between signatories of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal by proposing a limited extension of Iran's arms embargo and save the agreement from total collapse, Wall Street Journal reported on June 17.

Iran's five-year arms embargo, one of the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany ends on October 18.

However, President Donald Trump's administration, that exited the nuclear agreement known as JCPOA in 2018, is trying to extend the embargo.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently expressed confidence in the extension of the five-year arms embargo, asserting that Washington plans to achieve its goal.

One of the ways Washington is trying to make the extension possible is through JCPOA's "trigger mechanism."

The trigger mechanism is devised to resolve disputes among the countries that are part to the JCPOA and paves the way for returning the Islamic Republic' case to the Security Council, should Tehran refuse to fulfill its obligations set in the deal. In such a case, the UN sanctions against Iran will automatically resume.

However, Iran, China, and Russia insist that as the United States is no longer a party to the JCPOA, it cannot not activate the deal's trigger mechanism.

In a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, described the U.S. approach as "ridiculous and irresponsible."

In the meantime, the European powers who are struggling to keep the JCPOA alive, have found themselves in a complicated position.

"European diplomats, by and large, have played down the near-term risk of lifting the arms embargo, asserting that Iran’s deep economic problems will make it hard for Tehran to go on a weapons-buying spree," WSJ reported on Wednesday.

Therefore, to satisfy Washington's demands, the three European countries, Germany, Britain, and France, want to limit the "potential volume of arms deals" with Iran. At the same time, to convince China and Russia not to veto their proposed resolution, the European trio considers extending the arms embargo in a limited time frame and restricted volume.

The details of the trio's plan are still at an early stage of discussion, but, according to WSJ, "the ideas center around a measure that would allow some arms purchases by Iran while keeping key weapons systems out of Tehran’s hands, and an extension on the arms trade restrictions that might initially be limited to twelve months, the diplomats said."

Moreover, the Europeans are likely to call for tighter controls on Iran's arms shipments to its Middle East proxies by authorizing the international bodies to confiscate suspected cargos.

The trio also hopes to draft a resolution that satisfies China, Russia, and the U.S., and prevent them to veto it.

The Islamic Republic, for its part has called on Europe, Russia, and China not to succumb to Washington's pressure to extend the arms embargo against Tehran. It has gone even further threatening that, if the arms embargo is extended, it will react.

Russian diplomats have said in private that a "compromise" might be "possible" if Iran could convince other parties to the JCPOA to keep the deal alive until after the U.S. presidential election, next November.

However, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Rear Admiral, Ali Shamkhani, has already warned that the JCPOA would "die forever" should the UN arms embargo be extended.