European powers will not take steps to trigger international sanctions on Iran, ending the 2015 nuclear agreement, as long as Tehran slows down the expansion of its nuclear work, the Wall Street Journal reported January 23.
This can lead to new tensions with Washington that reportedly pressured the European to get tougher with Iran in the past few weeks.
Last May Iran retaliated against tougher U.S. sanctions on its oil exports by announcing it will gradually reduce its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as the nuclear deal is called. It also demanded Europe to activate a trade mechanism to circumvent U.S. sanctions, which the Europeans seem reluctant to do.
The three European signatories of the JCPOA, Britain, France and Germany last week triggered provisions in the 2015 agreement that could take Iran’s case to the UN Security Council and reimpose international sanctions that were suspended when Tehran signed the deal less than five years ago.
Iran has been enriching higher grade uranium in larger quantities in the past few months and is accumulating stockpiles that would provide enough material for further refinement needed for a nuclear weapon.
The report says European hope to slow down this process and gain time for possible talks between Iran and the United States. President Donald Trump who pulled the U.S. out of the JCPOA and imposed tough sanction on Iran, has repeatedly said he is ready for talk without pre-conditions. But Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has banned any talks with Washington. Other Iranian officials have insisted that the U.S. must first return to the 2015 deal before they would agree to talks.