UK, France and Germany to keep nuclear sanctions on Iran

The UK, France and Germany are to maintain sanctions on Iran in a bid to deter Tehran from selling drones and missiles to Russia.

In 2015, Iran agreed to a nuclear deal, and under the terms, some sanctions were to be lifted next month. However, European nations believe that Iran has violated the agreement by enriching and storing uranium. The action, according to Iran, is “illegal and provocative” and “clearly violated” the provisions of the nuclear agreement. European diplomatic sources said the decision was driven not only by a desire to prevent Iran from gaining economically, but also to reduce the possibility that Tehran would transfer ballistic missiles to Russia. Tehran has already sold many drones to Moscow that were used against Ukraine.

The UK, France and Germany said the sanctions were designed to “maintain non-proliferation measures against Iran as well as an arms and missile embargo”. European powers known collectively as the E3, have announced they will incorporate the expiring UN sanctions into their laws. Despite sanctions, Russia has used many Iranian-made drones in its war against Ukraine. In addition, the UK announced sanctions against officials responsible for drafting and implementing Iran’s mandatory hijab legislation, including the culture minister and the mayor of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

The move comes ahead of the first anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death. Her killing, after she was arrested by morality police for allegedly violating hijab rules, set off a wave of protests. Iran agreed to a nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with a group of world powers known as the P5+1, the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany eight years ago. Under the 2015 deal, Iran agreed to curb its sensitive nuclear activities and allow international inspectors in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions. 

The agreement prohibits anyone from buying, selling or transferring drones and missiles to and from Iran. The deal called for a “transition day” eight years later when the remaining ballistic missile and nuclear sanctions on Iran would be lifted. The sanctions also included an asset freeze on a list of people and organizations believed to be aiding the development of the nuclear program. Countries such as Russia and China will no longer be bound by the restrictions unless they adopt similar sanctions to the UK, France and Germany by October 18.

E3 said the sanctions would remain in place until Tehran “fully complies” with the deal. The E3’s responsibilities under the JCPOA and UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which forbids Iran from engaging in any activity linked to ballistic missiles built to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, were “clearly” violated, according to Iran, which claimed the judgment. E3 said the decision was consistent with the JCPOA because Iran “twice declined the opportunity to return to the JCPOA” and “continued to expand its program beyond the JCPOA’s limitations and without any credible civilian justification.” In 2018, Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the JCPOA.

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