Europeans Say Iran Violated Obama's Nuclear Accord, Britain Wants New Trump Deal

France, Germany and Britain have united to formally accuse Iran of breaking the terms of a 2015 deal in which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in trade for the lifting of international sanctions against the country, according to Reuters. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wants U.S. President Donald Trump to broker a new deal.

All three countries stated that they felt they were "left with no choice" but to trigger a dispute mechanism written into the agreement according to a joint statement, saying that they did so to save the deal and that the gesture was done to ensure Iran's compliance with the agreement.

The statement adds that they have triggered the mechanism due to the "increasingly severe and nonreversible proliferation implications" of Iran's actions.

"We do not accept the argument that Iran is entitled to reduce compliance with the JCPoA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action)," the statement continued. "Given recent events, it is all the more important that we do not add a nuclear proliferation crisis to the current escalation threatening the whole region."

The mechanism gives the parties 15 days to negotiate the matter and resolve the issue, a timeline which may be extended. The process may result in a return of international sanctions against Iranian officials or Iran, further hampering the country's trading prospects.

Iran stated on January 5 that in light of the airstrike carried out by the U.S. which killed Major General Qassem Soleimani on January 3, it would not continue to limit its nuclear energy production. On January 6, it also announced that it it would no longer limit its enrichment of uranium in response to America's actions in the region.

Under the original terms of the deal, Iran had agreed to restrict its nuclear production for ten years and shut down a number of centrifuges, that it would limit the strength of enrichment of its uranium and reduce the amount in its stockpiles, that "under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons," and to limit its nuclear program to "exclusively peaceful purposes." The agreement also banned ballistic missile tests by the country. In exchange, sanctions against technology, finance, trade and energy matters would be lifted, all promises Iran says Europe has been dilatory to fulfill.

The country is still abiding by some of the terms of the deal, including allowing monitoring by the U.N.'s nuclear agency and following some of the deal's terms.

Iran, Nuclear
Britain, France and Germany have formally accused Iran of violating a 2015 nuclear accord. Getty

Trump backed out of the accord in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, which were toughened on January 8 in light of recent strife between Iran and the United States. The joint statement noted that it did not agree with America's "campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran."

National reactions to the gesture were mixed.

"President Trump is a great deal-maker, by his own account. If we're going to get rid of it, let's replace it and let's replace it with the Trump deal," said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Tuesday on BBC Breakfast.

"The usage of the dispute mechanism is legally baseless and a strategic mistake from a political standpoint," Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Fars news agency, as translated by Reuters, and added that perceived misuse of the trigger mechanism would net a "serious and strong response" from the country.

Russia, another cosigner of the agreement, called the move "deeply disappointing and extremely concerning" through a foreign ministry statement quoted by Russian media, obtained and translated by the BBC.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, "We know exactly what is happening with the Iranian nuclear program. Iran thinks it can achieve nuclear weapons. I reiterate: Israel will not allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons."

American officials have thus far shown support for the gesture. "We agree with our allies that the goal is to stand with the Iranian people while exposing Tehran's lawless behavior," a State Department spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal.

"Nations must unite behind this effort to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its continued destabilizing actions," added a further statement from the State Department given to The New York Times.

"Iran announced on January 5 that it was abandoning the remaining operational restrictions under the JCPOA. We fully support the decision by the E3 to initiate the dispute resolution mechanism. We believe further diplomatic and economic pressure is warranted by nations. As President Trump stated: 'The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime: Your campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer.' Initiating the dispute resolution mechanism sends the right message. Iran's continued nuclear escalation underscores the serious challenge Iran poses to international peace and security; the time is now to end Iran's extortion," a state department spokesperson said when contacted by Newsweek for comment.

"The UK, France, and Germany took the right step in initiating the JCPOA dispute resolution mechanism in response to the series of provocations Iran has taken to expand proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities for which it has no immediate peaceful need. We agree with our allies that the goal is to stand with the Iranian people while exposing Tehran's lawless behavior. Nations must unite behind this effort to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its continued destabilizing actions," the spokesperson continued.

Updated (1/15/2019 9:51 p.m.): With a statement from a State Department spokesperson.