Reports say the three European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the E3, appear to be in agreement with Iran’s argument that the US is no longer a party to the accord and thus not entitled to push for the extension of a UN arms embargo on Tehran.
European officials told CNN on Wednesday that Britain, France and Germany would not back the US call for renewing the embargo — which is to be lifted later this year under UN Security Council Resolution (UNSC) 2231 that enshrined the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
A European source stressed that the countries still in the agreement cannot support the US proposal because the arms embargo’s expiration is a formal and legal part of the treaty.
“You won’t see the E3 signing up for that because the arms embargo end is a legitimate part of the JCPOA,” he said.
Peter Stano, the European Commission spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said in a statement that the “US has not participated in any meetings or activities within the framework of the JCPOA” since unilaterally withdrawing from the agreement in May 2018.
The Europeans, he added, “do not comment on reports of possible positions the US, or other UN members might take, regarding the JCPOA.”
The UN arms embargo on Iran — in place since 2006/2007- will be lifted in October 2020 — five years after the JCPOA took effect.
With the date looming, the US has shared with some members of the Security Council a draft resolution to prolong the arms embargo indefinitely.
To circumvent China and Russia’s veto of the resolution, which are both parties to the JCPOA, the US will argue that it legally remains a “participant state” in the deal only to invoke a “snapback” that would restore the UN sanctions, which had been in place against Iran prior to the JCPOA’s inking.
Speaking at the State Department Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was considering “every possibility” to renew the ban on selling conventional arms to Iran.
“We’re not going to let that happen,” he said, adding that the US administration is urging the E3 “to take action which is within their capacity today.”
“We'll work with the UN Security Council to extend that prohibition on those arms sales,” he continued.
An Iranian official, whose name was not mentioned, told CNN that “any US claim of being a participant in the JCPOA is basically rejected by the international community. Even every freshman student of international law or relations do not subscribe to the alleged US position.”
‘No legal argument can justify US role in JCPOA’
Additionally, Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi took to Twitter to respond to Pompeo’s claims, saying the US “has NO legal argument” to be a JCPOA participant as President Donald Trump ceased Washington’s participation in the deal two years ago.
“@SecPompeo claims that based on UNSCR 2231, the US is a “participant,” whereas 2231 refers to “JCPOA Participants.” He omits “JCPOA” ref, since on May 8, 2018, his boss declared “ceasing US participation in JCPOA.” As such, the US has NO legal argument to be “participant,”” he tweeted.