P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran turns five under threat
Iran and six big powers signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program in Vienna five years ago. The anniversary sees the United States, which exited the JCPOA in 2018, pressuring the remaining partners to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran that is part of the deal beyond its October expiry. Tehran vows to withdraw from the deal if the embargo is extended.
The European Union (EU) sees the nuclear deal as a key pillar of regional and world security and has struggled to keep the pact alive despite U.S. pressure. AP reports that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell insistsed after talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yiin on Jun 9 that since the U.S. has pulled out of the pact, it can no longer use its former membership to try to impose a permanent arms embargo on the Islamic Republic.
The expiry of the embargo on Oct 18, five years after its adoption, was one of the main JCPOA selling points for Iran.
The U.S. exit and punishing U.S. economic sanctions on Iran prompted that country to retaliate by increasing its nuclear capabilities beyond the limits agreed in 2015. Reuters reports that Iran says its steps to reactivate uranium enrichment, a pathway to developing nuclear bombs, could be reversed if Washington rescinds its sanctions and returns to the deal.
The JCPOA six, known as the P5+1 are: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council), plus Germany.
The first two years of the agreement included key steps by Iran to restrict its nuclear capabilities, including reducing its uranium stockpile by 98 per cent, removing the core of a nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium, and removing all but a handful of uranium enrichment equipment. Despite Iran’s certified compliance with the agreement, U.S. President Donald Trump argued it was flawed to Iran’s advantage and exited the deal.
Iran has warned that it may withdraw entirely from the nuclear pact, as well as the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, if UN sanctions are re-imposed.