Sustaining the Iran Nuclear Deal

by European Leadership Network

The extension of the sanctions relief to Iran announced by the US administration on 14 September was welcome. But, we remain greatly concerned by reports that the US Administration might unilaterally declare Tehran non-compliant with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”) in mid-October at the next US decision point on maintaining sanctions relief.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has verified and confirms that Iran continues to be compliant with the terms of the JCPOA. In fact, according to the IAEA Director General, “Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime.”

Unilateral US action that jeopardized the JCPOA would be a grave mistake.  It would harm US interests and US credibility in Europe and more widely. It would damage cooperation in the UN Security Council.  It would make it harder to keep Iran and its region non-nuclear and more difficult for the United States and her Allies to tackle unacceptable Iranian behaviour. Would it make sense to precipitate a second nuclear crisis alongside that with North Korea?

Like any other negotiation, no side got all they wanted from the agreement. It does not pretend to end all grounds for mutual hostility. It is of limited duration. Its sole purpose is to close off all pathways to Iran’s potential acquisition of a nuclear weapon.

But it does at least do this. Since the agreement, Iran has dismantled two thirds of its uranium enrichment centrifuges, capped enrichment by the remainder, shipped out more than 10,000 kilograms of uranium, halted work on its plutonium-producing reactor, exported the spent fuel and allowed unprecedented access to its nuclear facilities and supply chain.

As a result, the agreement has materially improved the outlook for Europe’s and the world’s security, as predicted in the July 2015 statement by ELN members, which saw the JCPOA as “just a first step in a process which must increase the level of the security of all countries in the Middle East, Europe and beyond”.

For as long as Iran complies, the agreement deserves to be defended:

  • Unilateral action by any side would play into the hands of hardliners who wish to subvert the deal for reasons that lie outside it and who would only be strengthened by the agreement’s weakening.
  • Jeopardizing the agreement would not make Iran less likely to acquire nuclear weapons.  On the contrary, it could precipitate another Middle East crisis that would, at the least, distract from international counter-terrorism efforts.
  • Trying to use the JCPOA to control Iran’s missile programme would make the best the enemy of the good: the agreement means Iran’s missiles will not carry nuclear warheads and it already may have helped redirect Iran’s missile programme away from ICBM development.
  • US concerns would gain more respect and support if pursued multilaterally. This would make it easier for America’s allies to help address the other ways in which Iran undermines security in the Middle East.

The European Union, Moscow, Beijing, London, Paris and Berlin are also signatories of this multilateral agreement. Europe has a larger stake than the United States in the strict enforcement of the Iran nuclear deal, a larger stake in the increased security that it provides, a larger stake in whether or not Iran goes nuclear, and a larger stake in countering any non-nuclear Iranian misbehaviour.  Europe at this moment should not stand idly by.

We therefore urge the deal’s European signatories – the European Union and the German, French, Russian and British governments – to make clear publicly as well as privately in Washington that:

  • While they remain keen to explore legitimate US concerns, not certifying Iranian compliance when the IAEA says Iran is in compliance would be unwarranted and they would not be in a position to support the United States on this in the Security Council;
  • They would work to see the nuclear deal continued with Iran, even in the absence of US participation, and that could include defending European companies and individuals from any re-introduced US sanctions and supporting legal action to do so.
  • They remain keen to work with the United States and the region to tackle broader questions of Iran’s foreign and security policy, such as its missile development and support for Hezbollah, which will require a mix of push-back, containment and dialogue;
  • If in these circumstances US nuclear-related sanctions on Iran were re-imposed, there would be unavoidable damage to the United States’ international standing that would put additional pressure on US-Europe relations.

And we urge President Trump and the US Congress to:

  • Address the facts of Iranian compliance on the terms of the deal, not on other points.
  • Consider that this multinational nuclear deal cannot be expected to solve non-nuclear issues and should not be instrumentalised in pursuit of bilateral confrontation.
  • Engage with the machinery of the JCPOA to address any US compliance concerns multilaterally.
  • Build on the deal to see whether it can be increased in duration and extended in scope to other countries of the region, as recently urged by leading US and ELN voices.
  • Accept that the fastest path to an Iranian nuclear weapon would be to undermine this agreement.

September 2017


United Kingdom

  1. Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP, current Member of Parliament, former British Foreign Secretary
  2. Admiral the Lord Michael Boyce GCB OBE DL, member of the House of Lords, former First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy, and former Chief of the Defence Staff
  3. Sir Tony Brenton, former UK Ambassador to Russia
  4. Lord Browne of Ladyton (Des Browne), Chair of the ELN, Vice Chairman of the NTI, and former UK Defence Secretary
  5. The Rt Hon. the Lord Campbell of Pittenweem CH CBE QC (Sir Menzies Campbell), member of the House of Lords,, former member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and member of the UK Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
  6. Rt. Hon Charles Clarke, former Home Secretary
  7. Lord Hannay of Chiswick (David Hannay), former Ambassador to the EU and to the UN, current Chair of UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Security and Non-Proliferation in the UK Parliament
  8. Lord Alfred Dubs, Member of the House of Lords
  9. Sir Nick Harvey, former Member of Parliament and former Minister of State for the Armed Forces
  10. John Kerr, independent member of the House of Lords, former British Ambassador to the United States and the EU
  11. General Sir John McColl, Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey, Former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Deputy SACEUR)
  12. Tom McKane, former Director General for Strategy and Security Policy, Ministry of Defence
  13. Lord David Owen, former British Foreign Secretary; Independent Social Democrat Peer in the House of Lords
  14. General the Lord Ramsbotham GCB CBE (David Ramsbotham), Retired General Army, Former Adjutant General, Former ADC General to HM the Queen
  15. Lord Richards of Herstmonceux (David Richards), former Chief of the Defence Staff, member of the House of Lords
  16. The Rt. Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind KCMG QC, former Foreign Secretary, former Defence Secretary
  17. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen (George Robertson), former Defence Secretary, former Secretary General of NATO
  18. The Rt Hon Sir John Stanley, former Minister for the Armed Forces, former Chairman of the Committees on Arms Export Controls
  19. Lord Triesman (David Triesman), former Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), former Chairman of the Football Association and former General Secretary of the Labour Party
  20. Admiral the Lord West of Spithead (Alan West), former First Sea Lord of the British Navy and current member of the House of Lords
  21. Lord Wallace (William Wallace), Member of the House of Lords, Former Lord in Waiting


  1. Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, current Chair of the Munich Security Conference and co-chair of the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative, former Deputy Foreign Minister of Germany
  2. General (Ret.) Klaus Naumann, Former Chief of Staff of the German armed forces, Former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
  3. Volker Rühe, former Defence Minister
  4. Karsten Voigt, former Coordinator of German-North American Cooperation at the Federal Foreign Office, former President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
  5. Dr. Klaus Wittmann, former Bundeswehr general, Senior Fellow Aspen Institute Germany
  6. Uta Zapf, former Chairwoman of the German Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation


  1. Benoit d’Aboville, former Permanent Representative to NATO, Vice President of “Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique” in Paris
  2. General (Ret.) Bernard Norlain, former Air Defence Commander and Air Combat Commander in the French Air Force and Military Advisor to Prime Minister Michel Rocard
  3. Paul Quilès, former Minister of Defence


  1. Dr. Evgeny Buzhinskiy, Lieutenant-General (Retired), Chairman of the Executive Board of PIR Center
  2. Ambassador Alexander Bessmertnykh, Former Foreign Minister
  3. Igor Ivanov, former Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, former Foreign Minister of Russia
  4. Ambassador Boris Pankin, Ambassador of RF (Ret), former  Foreign Minister of the USSR (1991)
  5. Dr. Dmitry Polikanov, Chairman of the Trialogue Club and member of the Expert Council of the Russian Government
  6. Dr. Sergey Rogov, Director of Institute for US and Canadian Studies Moscow, Russia
  7. General Vyacheslav Trubnikov, former First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service
  8. Igor Yurgens, Chairman of the Management Board of the Institute of Contemporary Development


  1. Ana Palacio, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, former member of the European Parliament
  2. Javier Solana, former NATO Secretary General and former European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy


  1. Ambassador Giancarlo Aragona, former Secretary General of OSCE, Ambassador to London and Moscow and Italian representative to the Albright Group for the drafting of NATO’s “New Strategic Concept”
  2. Professor Francesco Calogero, Former Secretary-General of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
  3. General (Ret) Vincenzo Camporini, former Chief of the Joint Defence Staff, former Chief of Staff of the Air Force
  4. Giorgio La Malfa, former Minister for European Affairs
  5. Paolo Cotta-Ramusino, Secretary General of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
  6. Stefano Silvestri, President of the International Affairs Institute of Italy, consultant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministries of Defence and Industry
  7. Stefano Stefanini, former Permanent Representative to NATO, former Diplomatic Advisor to the President of Italy
  8. Ambassador Carlo Trezza, former Member of the Advisory Board of the UN Secretary General for Disarmament Matters and Chairman of the Missile Technology Control Regime
  9. Professor Carlo Schaerf, Former Professor of Physics at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”


  1. Marietje Schaake, Member of the European Parliament
  2. Klaas de Vries, former Minister for Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations


  1. Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Prime Minister of Norway
  2. Dr Gro Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO)


  1. Wolfgang Petritsch, former EU Special Envoy to Kosovo and former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina


  1. Dr Solomon Passy, former Foreign Minister
  2. Professor Todor Tagarev, former Defence Minister, Head of “IT for Security” Department & the Centre for Security and Defence Management IICT at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences


  1. Ambassador Budimir Loncar, former  Minister of Foreign Affairs of former Yugoslavia
  2. Professor Ivo Šlaus, former member of parliament and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee

Czech Republic

  1. Jan Kavan, former President of the UN General Assembly, gformer Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic


  1. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, former Minister for Foreign Affairs
  2. Mogens Lykketoft, former Foreign Minister and former President of the UN General Assembly


  1. Ambassador Jaakko Blomberg, former Ambassador to Canada and Estonia
  2. Dr. Tarja Cronberg, former Member of the European Parliament, Distinguished Associate Fellow at SIPRI
  3. Ambassador Jaakko Laajava, former Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Security Policy and Facilitator of the WMDFZ in the Middle East.
  4. Professor Raimo Väyrynen, former Director at Finnish Institute of International Affairs


  1. Ambassador Tedo Japaridze, Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and former Minister of Foreign Affairs


  1. Ambassador Balázs Csuday, former Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations
  2. János Martonyi, former Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs


  1. Janusz Onyszkiewicz, former Defence Minister, former Vice-President of the European Parliament, Chairman of the Euro-Atlantic Association Council (Poland)
  2. Professor Dr. Adam Daniel Rotfeld, former Minister of Foreign Affairs


  1. Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, former Swedish Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament
  2. Henrik Salander, Former Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, Secretary-General of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission


  1. Vahit Erdem, Ambassador, former head of the Turkish Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and former Secretary General of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey
  2. Ambassador Osman Faruk Lo?o?lu, Former Turkish Ambassador the United States and former Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  3. Özdem Sanberk, former Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister, former Permanent Representative to the European Union


  1. Oleksandr Chalyi, former First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, former Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Ukraine.

Published, with permission, from European Leadership Network. Photo: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini (Wikimedia Commons).

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  1. To think that the USA can bully and lie its way to try to destroy what was painstakingly built up over so long by so many countries is a disgrace. The USA is NOT in charge of the world (and of course no country should be) and its history and actions show clearly it is unfit to interfere in serious deliberations on matters of grave importance, with a “UN Rep.” who has not the slightest clue of diplomatic behavior or decency.

  2. In view of President Trump’s violent and chauvinistic speech at the UN General Assembly earlier today, perhaps the worst speech ever from that podium, this statement shows the Gulf between the United States and Europe and probably the rest of the world. It is sad that instead of leading the world towards peace and dialog, under the current administration the United States can only speak in the language of violence and hostility.

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