EU, Biden and JCPOA’s final fate

EU, Biden and JCPOA’s final fate

The JCPOA is an important achievement for the EU and thus far the Europeans have tried to safeguard it. But after the United States’ exit from JCPOA under the Trump Administration, the entire EU efforts were ruined. Ever since then the EU has been trying to keep Iran pleased and has remained in the JCPOA, trying to keep on acting in accordance with its JCPOA commitments, with such mechanisms as the SPV and the INSTEX, so that it could keep open a financial channel at least for forwarding humanitarian aids, food, and medicine, but it was neither willing, not capable of standing against the US anti-Iranian strategy. 

Therefore, the EU adopted a strategic patience strategy so that the results of both the Trump impeachment by the US Congress and the US presidential election will be known. Parallel with Iran’s steps aimed at decreasing its JCPOA commitments the EU, too, gradually approached the US stands on Iran. After each step taken by Iran, the EU expressed serious concern, asking Iran to remain committed to its commitments.

Finally, last year and after Iran took its fifth step the US threatened to activate the JCPOA’s trigger mechanism. Yet, the EU kept the trigger mechanism suspended and meanwhile presented a positive interpretation of that mechanism aimed at further safeguarding the severely damaged JCPOA.

***EU, US gap on JCPOA maintained

As the US presidential election time approached and Trump’s chances for re-election weakened the EU tried to keep its gap with the US and therefore it did not join the US in its effort in the UN Security Council aimed at imposing international arms sanction against Tehran.

After president-elect, Joe Biden’s winning in the election was fully certified and the chances for the US to return to the JCPOA gained momentum by and by talks on further negotiations with Iran besides the nuclear issue were heard in the international scene.

In other words, the EU hoped to take sides with the US under the Biden administration in international affairs, including on Iran’s nuclear issue, which had been practically impossible under the Trump administration, especially during the past 4 years.

***Challenges faced by the EU

 Now that Iran has decided to install advanced centrifuges in Natanz and has meanwhile ratified its Strategic Anti-Sanctions Law the EU is faced with two major challenges:

1.            Despite the optimism about the Biden administration’s conduct, there are now growing fears lest the JCPOA will totally be destroyed

2.            The EU will not achieve its full objective in the framework of the JCPOA and the post-JCPOA developments. In other words, keeping the JCPOA, pleasing Iran to remain faithful to its JCPOA commitments; and

3.            Reaching new agreements with Iran as the complementary appendix of JCPOA, or the JCPOA+

***EU reaction to Iran’s moves

EU reactions to Iran’s moves seem to be influenced by both the international and the internal Iranian political developments. On the one hand, the election to Biden revives hope for the revival of unity on the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean and thus achieving the EU-US objectives in both JCPOA and the JCPOA+. On the other hand with the moves made in Iran, including the Iranian parliament ratification, the complications of the issue have increased and unified actions on the other side of the table are needed. Under such conditions, the possibility of activating the JCPOA trigger mechanism is one of the probable options on the western side’s table.

***Iran’s strategic patience

Biden’s election and his promises to return the US to the JCPOA have revived hopes for solving the sanctions problems in Iran. Meanwhile, the new demands, particularly from the EU side, and the ratification of the Iranian anti-JCPOA law have created serious challenges for President Rouhani’s cabinet in the last year of its tenure.

Therefore, Iran should prepare itself for encountering both the EU and the US at the international diplomatic scene. In order to do so, unity within the Iranian political scene inside the country is needed to secure national interest in this serious international challenge.

By University Professor Dr. Ardeshir Sanaie


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