US Politics

EU Ministers Support Iran Nuclear Deal, Prefer Diplomatic Solution

The European Union Council of foreign ministers convened at an extraordinary meeting of the EU Foreign Council in Brussels on Jan. 10. It called on Iran to immediately go back to full compliance with the Nuclear Deal. It gave a mandate to the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to carry out diplomatic efforts to resolve the tensions in the region via political means.

The EUs High Representative Josep Borrell called this urgent meeting of European foreign affairs ministers, which was also joined by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, after the assassination of an Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, in a U.S. drone attack in Iraq on Jan. 3 and escalation of tensions in the region.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference at a European Union foreign ministers emergency meeting to discuss ways to try to save the Iran nuclear deal, in Brussels, Belgium, January 10, 2020. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference at a European Union foreign ministers emergency meeting to discuss ways to try to save the Iran nuclear deal, in Brussels, Belgium, January 10, 2020. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference at a European Union foreign ministers emergency meeting to discuss ways to try to save the Iran nuclear deal, in Brussels, Belgium on Jan. 10, 2020. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

Stoltenberg said in his remarks before the meeting that NATO should build on some reduction in tensions in the Middle East that recently had been observed. However, “the fight against Daesh [ISIS terrorist group] is not over,” and ISIS can return despite the big progress made to defeat it, said Stoltenberg.

The best strategy to defeat ISIS, according to Stoltenberg, is to train local forces in countering terrorism and build local defense and security institutions. Its currently being done in Iraq. However, NATO and the Coalition have suspended the training activities due to security concerns, Stoltenberg said.

He also mentioned that NATO is looking into increasing its contribution to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism in the Middle East, in response to President Donald Trumps calling on NATO to do more in fighting against international terrorism in that region.

The ministers participating in the EU Foreign Council meeting assessed the consequences of the recent security incidents and the escalation of tensions in the region, as well as their impact on the activities carried out by the global coalition to defeat ISIS, according to the statement adopted by the Council.

“The Council gave a mandate to the EUs High Representative to carry out diplomatic efforts with all parties to contribute to de-escalation in the region, support political dialogue and promote a political, regional solution,” and called for “urgent de-escalation and maximum restraint,” reads the statement.

Technicians work at the Arak heavy water reactors secondary circuit, as officials and media visit the site, near Arak, 150 miles southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran on Monday, Dec. 23, 2019. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

Borrell said that the Council did not consider triggering a dispute resolution process under the 2015 nuclear deal that could lead to renewed United Nations sanctions on Iran due to Irans decision to intensify its enrichment of uranium.

Instead, the ministers reiterated their support “for the preservation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) [Iran Nuclear Deal], as a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture,” and “called on Iran to go back to full compliance with the JCPoA without delay,” the statement reads.

Borrell had already offered the Foreign Minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, that he would coordinate the efforts of the remaining Nuclear Deal participants to complete the implementation of the deal, and invited Zarif to Brussels for further discussions.

The United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and re-imposed tight sanctions on Iran previously lifted as a part of the deal.

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