Europe Is Creating an Opportunity for Iran Talks, and Washington Should Take It
- Charles Thépaut, Elena DeLozier
- Content Type
- Policy Brief
- The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
- By triggering the nuclear deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, Britain, France, and Germany are opening
diplomatic space that could help the United States and Iran return to the negotiating table.
In a press conference following the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, President Trump reaffirmed his
administration’s “maximum pressure” policy against Iran and asked, once again, for European countries to leave
the nuclear deal. Meanwhile, Tehran announced what it called a “fifth and final remedial step” away from its
commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. In response, the British, French, and German foreign
ministers stated on January 14 that they would trigger the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism (DRM).
At the same time, however, the E3 clarified that they are not joining the Trump administration’s maximum
pressure campaign, which has steadily intensified ever since the United States withdrew from the JCPOA and
reimposed unilateral sanctions in 2018. Contrary to U.S. claims, the European decision will not immediately
provoke “snapback” UN sanctions on Iran (though that scenario could unfold later if the E3 plan fails and Iran’s
violations go before the UN Security Council). Instead, Europe is maintaining its evenhanded position somewhere
between Washington and Tehran in order to preserve the possibility of new negotiations, on both the nuclear
program and other regional issues.
- Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Negotiation
- Political Geography
- Europe, Iran, Middle East, United States of America