Foreign ministers from Germany, the UK, and France met in Berlin on Monday to discuss the future of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Since President Trump withdrew from the JCPOA by reimposing sanctions on Iran in 2018, the three European have been working to preserve the deal.
German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss “what a further approach involving all signatories to the JCPOA, and perhaps also with a new US administration, could look like.” Joe Biden has said he will work with Iran to return to the JCPOA, and the German envoy seems hopeful about the prospect.
“We are confident that a constructive approach by the US toward the Vienna nuclear agreement could contribute significantly to breaking the current negative spiral we are seeing with Iran, and opening new prospects for the preservation of the JCPOA,” Sasse said.
Sasse also called on Iran to “stop violating the deal and return to fulfilling all its nuclear obligations completely.” Iran has taken small steps to violate the JCPOA, like enriching uranium at 4.5 percent, which is slightly higher than the 3.67 percent permitted under the deal but vastly lower than the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif have both recently said that they are ready to abide by the limitations set by the JCPOA in exchange for sanctions relief. “The lifting of sanctions and Iran’s return to its commitments is not a time-consuming process,” Zarif told Iranian media. “If Biden wants to fulfill the US commitments, we too can immediately return to our full commitments.”
While Washington’s European allies are proponents of the JCPOA, Biden is going to face a lot of pressure from Iran hawks in the US, Israel, and some Gulf states if he pursues diplomacy to resurrect the deal.