EU's Top Diplomat to Take Final Shot at Salvaging Iran Nuclear Deal
19:37 GMT 07.05.2022 (Updated: 17:14 GMT 12.04.2023)
© KENZO TRIBOUILLARDEuropean Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell arrives for a Foreign Affairs Council meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on February 21, 2022.
© KENZO TRIBOUILLARD
Brussels is to propose a compromise on the issue of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that left negotiations at a deadlock in March.
The European Union’s (EU) High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell has claimed that he is making a "last bullet" diplomatic push in a bid to complete the Vienna Iran nuclear negotiations and recuperate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The top EU diplomat has said that he seeks what he calls a "middle way" to break the deadlock. Talks broke down in March following Tehran's demands to declassify the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation. The IRCH is an independent branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, with its own financing, troops, military equipment and even R&D department. The group was blacklisted by former US President Donald Trump in 2019 – a year after he slapped Iran with sanctions, unwinding the JCPOA. Washington has refused to declassify the organisation as terrorist out of fears of a domestic backlash.
Borrell's Plan to Save the Vienna Talks
Europe’s foreign policy chief is planning to propose to both the US and Iran that the IRCH be excluded from the terror list, but that some of its subparts remain blacklisted. The diplomat did not offer further details on the proposal, namely whether the powerful Quds Force will remain on the list.
Borrell went on to say that negotiator Enrique Mora will be travelling to Tehran to present the plan, but noted that Iran "was very much reluctant". Borrell also shared that his plan was "on the table of President Biden himself", but did not comment if the POTUS backed it.
The diplomat also warned that it was a last ditch effort to save the talks, which came close to an agreement in February this year before stalling in March.
"At a certain moment, I will have to say, as co-ordinator [of the Vienna talks] I make this proposal on the table, formally […] the only equilibrium point possible would be this one. We cannot continue like this forever, because in the meantime Iran continues developing their nuclear programme", he said.
Borrell noted that the EU is extremely interested in signing the agreement, which would revive the Iran nuclear deal and lift the country’s sanctions. He explained that the deal played an important role in Brussels’ attempt to replace Russian oil suppliers by the end of the year. The EU has landed a host of sanctions against Moscow over its special military operation in Ukraine and Iran, with its significant oil reserves could replace Russian suppliers, Borrell suggested.
"For us it was something […] 'well we don’t need it', now it would be very much interesting for us to have another [crude] supplier", the diplomat said.
European countries lost their ability to safely buy Iranian oil after Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018. At the time, he called the deal flawed and claimed to be able to negotiate a better one. The JCPOA, first signed in 2015, lifted international sanctions against Iran, allowing it to trade with other countries. In exchange, it limited Iran’s nuclear programme.
One year after the US withdrew from the JCPOA, Iran started to gradually pull back on its obligations to limit the enrichment of nuclear fuel. However, since the change of administrations in the US, the remaining JCPOA signatories have been trying to negotiate compliance to the agreement by both Tehran and Washington, which took part in the Vienna talks indirectly.
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