Council Conclusions on Iran

November 14, 2016

1.         Recalling the July 2015 Council conclusions and the joint statement agreed by the HRVP and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at their April meeting, the European Union expresses its will to develop further its relations with Iran, in a manner fully consistent with the JCPOA.

2.         The European Union reiterates its resolute commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which is a multilateral endeavour by the E3/EU+3 and Iran. It welcomes that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is being implemented by all sides. It notes that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has issued four reports since Implementation Day verifying Iran's nuclear related commitments. It underlines the need for Iran to continue to cooperate fully and in a timely manner with the IAEA and it supports the Agency work in monitoring Iran's implementation of the deal. It encourages Iran to ratify the additional protocol to its safeguards agreement. The European Union reiterates the need for continued full and effective implementation of the JCPOA throughout the lifetime of the agreement. The European Union confirms its support to the High Representative in her role as Coordinator of the Joint Commission.

3.         The European Union is committed to support the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA including by the lifting of nuclear related economic and financial sanctions and engaging with the private sector and economic operators, especially banks, to promote growth in trade and investment. In particular, extensive guidance has been provided on the lifting of sanctions to ensure the new regulatory framework is clear. The Council will continue to reach out to all relevant parties on this issue.

4.         The European Union welcomes and looks forward to the continued issuing of export licenses by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control for the transfer of commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services to Iran. The sale of a significant number of aircraft to Iran's airlines  will be an important signal for the successful implementation of the JCPOA. The aircraft's exclusively civil aviation end-use will enhance the people's mobility and contribute to a safer commercial aviation environment.

5.         The upholding of commitments by all sides is a necessary condition to continue rebuilding trust and allow for continued, steady and gradual improvement in relations between the European Union, its Member States and Iran as stated by the July 2015 Foreign Affairs Council.

6.         The Council reiterates its support to the development of EU-Iran relations in areas of common interest such as political dialogue, human rights, economic cooperation, trade and investment, agriculture, transport, energy and climate change, civil nuclear cooperation, environment, civil protection, science, research and innovation, education, including through university exchanges, culture, drugs, migration, regional and humanitarian issues as outlined in the Joint statement agreed by the HRVP and the Iranian Foreign Minister in their April meeting. The Council supports a coordinated EU strategy of gradual engagement with Iran that is comprehensive in scope, cooperative where there is mutual interest, critical when there are differences and constructive in practice. As part of that the Council fully supports the prompt opening of an EU Delegation in Iran as a  key step to deliver the broad cooperation agenda.

7.         The Council welcomes the expansion of the EU's economic relationship with Iran as a result of the implementation of the JCPOA and reaffirms its support for Iran's WTO accession as a way to promote market related reforms and achieve reintegration into the global economy and the rules based trading system. For Iran to fully benefit from the lifting of sanctions, including the full reengagement of European banks and businesses, it is important that it addresses obstacles related to economic and fiscal policy, business environment and rule of law. The Council welcomes Iran's adoption of, and high-level political commitment to, a Financial Action Task Force Action Plan to address its strategic anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism deficiencies, and its decision to seek technical assistance and urges its timely and swift implementation. The EU and its Member States are open to cooperate with Iran in these areas, including providing technical assistance for the implementation of the FATF action plan, and consider the use of export credits to facilitate trade, project financing, and investment in Iran. The Council welcomes the prospect of extending the third country lending mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB) to Iran.

8.         The Council notes the Iranian President's pledge to improve human rights in the country. However it remains concerned with the human rights situation, in particular the frequent use of death penalty including against juvenile and drug offenders. The EU opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances. The Council underlines the need to ensure equal rights of women, and persons belonging to all minorities, including ethnic and religious minorities, respecting freedom of expression, assembly and association and implementing the treaties to which Iran is a party as well as acceding to those conventions to which it is not yet a state party. It also calls on Iran to cooperate with and grant access to the UN special rapporteur. The EU aims at addressing these issues in a constructive manner, including through a dialogue on human rights, which would further identify areas of cooperation in this field.

9.         The Council expresses its concern with the growing tensions in the region and supports ways to promote a more constructive regional environment. Iran plays an important regional role and it is of utmost importance that it takes tangible and constructive steps that would help make an improved regional situation a reality. The EU emphasises its balanced approach to the region and urges all countries in the region to work towards de-escalation of tensions and avoiding actions which feed violence, sectarianism and polarisation. In this sense the Council expresses its concern with the regional military build-up, including Iran's missile programme and calls upon Iran to refrain from activities which may deepen mistrust, such as ballistic missile tests, which are inconsistent with UNSCR 2231, and the statements associated with these.

10.       The EU reiterates its conclusions on Syria of 17 October 2016t and calls urgently for an end to the excessive and disproportionate attacks by the Syrian regime and its allies, both deliberate and indiscriminate, against civilian populations, humanitarian and healthcare personnel and civilian and humanitarian infrastructures. Therefore the Council urges Iran to use its influence on the Syrian regime to end the violence against civilian populations, humanitarian personnel and civilian and humanitarian infrastructures, enable full unhindered country-wide humanitarian access and engage constructively in a negotiated political process. The Council also encourages Iran to fully contribute to laying the ground for the resumption of an inclusive and Syrian led political process under UN auspices. The Council welcomes the outreach of the High Representative in this respect and invites her to continue this work with key actors in the region in support of the efforts of the UNSE Staffan de Mistura.