Iran has announced that it will dissociate itself further from the nuclear agreement. Does this spell the end of the agreement?
This is, firstly, a decision that makes the situation, which is difficult anyway, much more complicated because nobody wants Iran to get its hands on nuclear weapons. What Iran has now announced is no longer in line with the agreement. That’s why we’ll be meeting with France and the UK today to decide, together, how to respond to this announcement by the end of this week. This is certainly not something that we can simply accept without a response.
What do you mean by that?
I mean that we will look at how such cases should be clarified and which procedures can be triggered – the agreement offers certain possibilities in this regard. We’ll discuss this together. We will, as we have always done in the past, discuss this with the International Atomic Energy Agency and request their assessment once again. On this basis, once we have gathered together the facts, there will be a coordinated response, which Germany, France and the UK will discuss in the coming hours and days.
What’s the most likely scenario? Is it possible that the Europeans will withdraw from the agreement?
We’ll be sure to talk to Iran once again. However, what has been announced isn’t in line with the nuclear agreement. And when these talks have been conducted, we’ll have to reach a decision on this. This hasn’t become any easier, and this may also be the beginning of the end of this agreement, which would be a great loss.
That’s why we will now weigh this up again very, very responsibly, also in the current situation, in which all of us are endeavouring to prevent further escalation. But we will not simply be able to shrug off what Iran has now announced. We want to coordinate our response to this at the international level, however.
Just briefly to finish with, you said just now that there was a certain amount of bewilderment in Washington with respect to Europe’s response in recent days, and many people are probably also wondering which side the Europeans are actually on as those who still view Tehran as a negotiating partner, with respect to this nuclear agreement, for example.
We’re on the side that always wants to give diplomacy a chance.
And that doesn’t necessarily have to be the side taken by the US?
When I consider what has happened in the last few days after Soleimani was killed, you inevitably have to ask whether these are developments that were intended. I don’t believe that this is the case. That is why we have to deal with this now, and we will do our part, as Europe, to ensure that every opportunity is taken to give diplomacy another chance. The last thing that any of us would want – that’s also in Europe’s profound security interest – is a conflagration in the Near and Middle East, as this will significantly alter the security situation in Europe, and not for the better.
Interview conducted by Christiane Kaess