Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement on Monday after Iran announced that it was taking its fifth and final step to scale back its commitments under the deal.
The statement urged the Islamic Republic to refrain from further “proliferation” and “to reverse all measures inconsistent with the JCPOA,” referring to the nuclear deal by the abbreviation of its official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The deal Iran signed with the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany, lifted nuclear-related sanctions in return for Tehran voluntarily reducing some aspects of its nuclear energy program. The deal was later ratified in the form of a United Nations Security Council resolution.
But the US withdrew from the accord and returned the sanctions, prompting Iran to begin a set of countermeasures. Tehran has been particularly disappointed with the European trio’s failure to protect its business interests under the deal after Washington’s withdrawal.
Also speaking on Monday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned that Iran’s latest move to cut its commitments could be a step towards the end of the nuclear accord.
“(The situation) has not got easier, and this could be the first step to the end of this agreement, which would be a big loss so we will weigh this up very, very responsibly now,” Maas told Deutschlandfunk radio.
On Sunday, Iran said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif noted that all of Iran’s retaliatory steps fitted within Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA, and that the countermeasures “were reversible upon effective implementation of reciprocal obligations.”
Iran also pledged continued cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Maas also said that Berlin, London, and Paris would react to Tehran’s most recent announcement later this week.
Tehran’s decision to further scale back its commitments followed the United States’ assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Quds Force in Baghdad on Friday.
The three European signatories to the deal, also known as the E3, said in their statement, “We recall our attachment to the sovereignty and security of Iraq. Another crisis risks jeopardizing years of efforts to stabilize Iraq.”
The European statement, however, fell short of acknowledging any provocative action or atrocity committed by the US in Iraq. It even accused Iran of playing a “negative role” in the region, and called for an end to the current cycle of violence in Iraq.
“We also reaffirm our commitment to continue the fight against Daesh, which remains a high priority. The preservation of the Coalition is key in this regard. We therefore urge the Iraqi authorities to continue providing the Coalition all the necessary support,” read part of the joint statement.
Following the airstrikes that also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) anti-terror group, the Iraqi parliament voted unanimously in favor of expelling all foreign military forces led by the US from Iraq.