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Europeans trigger dispute mechanism in Iran nuclear deal

European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini speaks during a debate on the consequences and EUs response to US Presidents withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal at the European Parliament on 12 June 2018 in Strasbourg. [FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images]
European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini speaks during a debate on the US President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal at the European Parliament on 12 June 2018 [FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images]

France, Britain, and Germany formally triggered the dispute mechanism in Iran’s nuclear deal on Tuesday, the strongest step the Europeans have taken so far to enforce an agreement that requires Iran to curb its nuclear programme, reports Reuters.

The European powers said they were acting to avoid a crisis over nuclear proliferation adding to an escalating confrontation in the Middle East. Russia, another signatory to the pact, said it saw no grounds to trigger the mechanism.

READ: Iran condemns new US sanctions

The three European nations said they still wanted the 2015 nuclear deal to succeed and were not joining a “maximum pressure” campaign by the United States, which abandoned the pact in 2018 and has reimposed economic sanctions on Iran.

Cartoon of President Trump ripping Iran's Nuclear deal [Twitter]

Cartoon of President Trump ripping Iran’s Nuclear deal [Twitter]

Triggering the mechanism amounts to formally accusing Iran of violating the terms of the deal and could lead eventually to reimposing UN sanctions that were lifted under the pact.

Iran has gradually rolled back its commitments under the accord since the United States quit. Tehran argues that it has the right to do so because of Washington’s actions.

“We do not accept the argument that Iran is entitled to reduce compliance with the JCPoA,” the three European countries said in a joint statement, using the formal name of the agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

READ: UK’s Johnson urges Trump to de-escalate Iran situation

“Our three countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran. Our hope is to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPoA,” they said.

Iran has long accused the Europeans of reneging on promises to protect its economy from US sanctions. Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi dismissed the “completely passive action” of the three countries.

He said Iran would support any act of “goodwill and constructive effort” to save the agreement but would give a “serious response to any destructive measures.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said activating the mechanism could make it impossible to resume implementation of the deal.

READ: European powers to decide in coming days on Iran dispute mechanism

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