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European and Iranian officials met for one final attempt to save the nuclear deal

final attempt
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News Analysis |

Officials from Iran, Britain, China, Germany, Russia, and France- which constitute all the stakeholders of Iran’s nuclear deal met before the United Nations General Assembly session to work out a plan to keep the deal alive and beneficial for Iran. “An essential part of the agreement and its implementation regards Iran having the possibility of benefiting from the lifting of sanctions, and this is exactly why we are discussing tonight, operational concrete steps that we can put in place,” Federica Mogherini, an EU official,  told reporters before the talks at the United Nations.

“Iran has good arguments and good reasons to remain in the agreement, the more operational decisions we will manage to take and implement, I believe the more Iran will have reasons to do,” she added. After arduous diplomatic efforts of previous U.S administration, working with the European countries along with China and Russia, a deal was signed with Iran in 2015 which is officially known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

French state-owned bank Bpifrance on Monday abandoned its plan to set up a financial mechanism to aid French companies trading with Iran. Since the deadline is almost a month away now, these efforts are considered the final attempts to find a way out.

Under the deal, Iran was to halt its nuclear ambitions in exchange for economic sanctions wavier and trade benefits. The deal, however, was sabotaged in May 2018 by the U.S president Donald Trump, citing the inadequacy of the agreement to curb the ballistic missile program and increasing strategic footprint of Iran in the Middle East. In order to compromise the efforts of remaining signatories to keep the deal alive even when the U.S had left, President Trump announced that his scale of sanctions would be extended to the countries that are found trading with Iran after November 4.

It has led European signatories, France, Britain, and Germany to rethink their plans and reanalyze their priorities. The grounds which President Trump walked away from the deal are not entirely false. Iran has gained a substantial hold in the Middle East, courtesy of the sectarian conflict in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. It has been able to penetrate inside Yemen via its proxy Houthis, which are sitting right next to Saudi border and shooting ballistic missiles inside the Saudi mainland, a close ally of the United States of America.

Read more: Iran talks aim to save nuclear deal after US pullout

In Syria, Iran has an active deployment of its Revolutionary Guard. And the second concern which Donald Trump has is Iran’s Research and Development of a better version of ballistic missiles. In general understanding, and due to advanced interception systems, ballistic missiles are hardly thought to be used to carry conventional warhead anymore. They are extensively being looked at as the delivery mechanism for the nuclear warhead. But both these concerns have more to do with the strategic outcomes rather security.

In order to compromise the efforts of remaining signatories to keep the deal alive even when the U.S had left, President Trump announced that his scale of sanctions would be extended to the countries that are found trading with Iran after November 4.

The main purpose of the nuclear deal was to stop Iran from building its own nukes, and it has been achieved. While there is a looming skepticism over the actual options, which are quite limited, to salvage the deal, the rest of the signatories are trying their best to keep Iran away from any desperate adventure. Iran has repeatedly threatened to choke the Hormuz passage, a shipping route which carries oil and goods to and from Gulf countries.

Since there is a heavy deployment of the U.S troops in these waters, it is feared that any confrontation might lead to an escalated, big scale war which could eventually draw Europe into the conflict as Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty would come into play. European Union has already imposed a “blocking Status” shielding its companies from the U.S sanctions, a law which was initially passed in 1996 to save the European business with Cuba as Cuba and the United States of America were not on very good terms.

Read more: Renegotiating Iran’s nuclear deal- Sabena Siddiqi

The blocking status is enacted since August 2018, but it is seen to be insufficient to provide the sort of confidence which the institutions and companies need to operate on Iran. French state-owned bank Bpifrance on Monday abandoned its plan to set up a financial mechanism to aid French companies trading with Iran.

Since the deadline is almost a month away now, these efforts are considered the final attempts to find a way out. The recent attack on the Revolutionary Guard and civilians has further tensed the situation between Iran and the USA where former has threatened latter of dire consequences. The likelihood of fierce confrontation will reach new plausibility if it becomes a clear question of Iran’s survival as a country.


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