The European Union’s top diplomat said Tuesday that since the United States has already withdrawn from an international agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it can’t now use its former membership in the pact to try to impose a permanent arms embargo on the Islamic Republic.
The accord, which Iran signed with the US, Britain, Germany, France, China and Russia in 2015, has been unraveling since US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out in 2018 and reinstated sanctions designed to cripple Tehran under what the US called a “maximum pressure” campaign.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, said Friday that Iran had accumulated enriched uranium at nearly eight times the limit under the nuclear deal, and has for months blocked inspections at sites where nuclear activity may have taken place.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft have said that extending a permanent UN backed arms embargo against Iran is now a top priority for Washington.
But speaking to reporters Tuesday after talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell insisted that since the US has pulled out of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it can no longer claim to have a role in it.
“The United States has withdrawn from the JCPOA, and now they cannot claim that they are still part of the JCPOA in order to deal with this issue from the JCPOA agreement. They withdraw. It’s clear. They withdraw,” Borrell said.
On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the Trump administration of unleashing a politically motivated campaign against Iran and called for “universal condemnation” of the US attempt to get the UN Security Council to impose a permanent arms embargo.
The EU sees the nuclear deal as a key pillar of regional and world security, and has struggled to keep the pact alive despite US pressure. Borrell is tasked with supervising the way the pact is applied and to help resolve disputes between the parties.