EU presents final text to reinstate Iran nuclear deal

After four years of stagnation, the text with a European seal could be the beginning of a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

REUTERS/YVES HERMAN  -   The flag of the European Union flies in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels

The European Union has presented the "final text" that would include the official conditions for returning to the 2015 nuclear agreement, abandoned by the Trump administration in 2018, and which aimed to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Although these negotiations have been characterised by a remarkable lack of action, the text presented by the European Union could mark a turning point in the negotiations, as it attempts to mediate, in the most balanced way possible, between all the parties so that a return to the agreement is finally achieved. Just a few days ago, countries such as China, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Iran, Russia and, indirectly, the United States met in Vienna, months after the talks had remained deadlocked. 

PHOTO/WANA (Agencia de Noticias de Asia Occidental)  - View of the nuclear water reactor in Arak, Iran, 23 December 2019

The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, was optimistic about the proposed text and said that if all the countries negotiate the latest proposed version, the reactivation of the pact could be signed.

For its part, the Iranian state news agency IRNA has indicated that they are reviewing the text - some 25 pages long - and indicated that "as soon as we receive these ideas, we will transmit our initial response and considerations" but that "naturally, it would require an exhaustive review" from which they will transmit "our opinions and additional considerations", for a possible return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

AFP/AFP - Map of Iran showing the main nuclear facilities

In this situation, one of the key points that has deteriorated the negotiations in terms of reaching an understanding has been the fact that Iranian nuclear material has been found in undeclared sites, which has increased distrust on the part of the United States and the rest of the member states.

Thus, last June, the UN adopted a resolution censuring Iran for failing to adequately explain the discovery of what it claimed were new traces of enriched uranium at three undeclared sites.

AFP/JOE KLAMAR - Abbas Araghchi (C-R), political deputy of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, and the Secretary General of the European Union External Action Service (EEAS) Helga Schmid (C-I) attend a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission on Iran's nuclear programme at the office of the EU Delegation to the International Organisations in Vienna

According to recent statements issued by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, it is the UN that "should fully resolve the remaining safeguards issues on a technical basis by distancing itself from irrelevant and unconstructive political issues".

For her part, Arms Control Association expert Kelsey Davenport said that failure by the US and other signatories to support the UN would undermine "the agency's mandate" and broader non-proliferation objectives. 

PHOTO/FILE - Alí Jamenei

Since the US withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, diplomatic efforts by signatories have been prominent in an attempt to bring about an effective return and thus try to rein in Tehran. However, both negotiations and talks have been characterised by stalemate.

Sanctions imposed on Iran, accusations of Iran's aspirations to build a nuclear bomb, and the difficulty of reaching a consensus have all deteriorated the path towards a return to the agreement in recent years.

However, the European Union's proposal is intended to be a starting point to ensure that diplomacy finally triumphs and a return to the nuclear agreement is achieved after four years of back and forth in which, amidst the noise, Iran has continued to obtain enriched uranium.