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Trigger Mechanism Could Return Sanctions Against Iran

US -- EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, speaking at the UN alongside Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said The European Union is vowing to keep trying to set up a new payment system that will allow its businesses to keep trading wi

A senior EU official told reporters on July 12 that it is not time yet to use the so-called trigger mechanism determined in the nuclear deal with Iran to settle differences with the country.

The European Union, however, has expressed regret over the reduction of Iran's commitment to its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA).

The official said that the EU still expects Iran to remain committed to its obligations under JCPOA, adding that there are still other ways of settling the dispute with Iran as using the trigger mechanism could land Iran in a situation that returns all the international sanctions against Tehran.

However, the EU official, who requested anonymity, insisted the EU will not accept a "less for less" solution. Iran has reduced some of its commitments under JCPOA during the past eight weeks and has threatened to increase its uranium enrichment level to 20 percent by September.

He made the statement when asked about a timeline of when the EU would resort to the trigger mechanism to address Iran’s breach of the nuclear deal.

Based on Paragraph 37 of JCPOA, the trigger mechanism can automatically reactivate previous international sanctions against Iran.

The trigger mechanism can be activated if any one of the three European signatories to JCPOA (the United Kingdom, Germany, and France) decides that Iran has violated the agreement. In that case, the matter will be handed over to the UN Security Council within 65 days and the body could order a swift return of all international sanctions against Tehran.

Nevertheless, according to the EU official, the trigger mechanism will be used only when all other solutions have been attempted.

"Iran remained committed to the nuclear deal for 14 months after the U.S. withdrawal from the deal,” he said. “Tehran could have left the agreement, but it decided to remain. We convinced them to remain in the deal."

However, the situation could change quickly in light of rising tensions in the Persian Gulf as Iranian officials have threatened to detain a British oil tanker in retaliation for the detention of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar for violating EU sanctions against Syria.

Iran's nuclear deal and the change in Tehran's behavior will be discussed at the next JCPOA commission in Vienna on July 13. The commission meets every three months with representatives from Iran and the other five remaining signatories to JCPOA.

At its latest meeting, the commission discussed the EU financial mechanism to help Iran carry out its international banking regardless of the U.S. sanctions.

However, a year after the U.S. withdrawal from the deal, Iran announced reductions in its commitments to the nuclear deal with the West. These include exceeding the 3.67 percent

limit for uranium enrichment and not respecting the 300-kilogram limit to stockpiling enriched uranium.

The breaches have caused grave concern in Europe amid rising tensions between Iran and the United States, which decided on July 12 to send yet another warship to defend British oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, where Iran is accused of carrying out attacks.

Meanwhile, tensions between Iran and the United States have continued to rise since the downing of a U.S. drone over international waters in the region last month.