Iran/Iraq : Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the European Parliament Plenary Debate on the Situation in Iran and Iraq Following Recent Escalations (Excerpts)

January 14, 2020

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


Honourable Members of Parliament, in the current situation of tension it is more important than ever to keep hold of the instruments that are serving to promote security, and in this context, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the JCPOA) remains crucial for non-proliferation purposes. A failure to preserve the deal will only add tensions in the region. Imagine for a second what would be the situation today if Iran had nuclear weapons. And they would have been able to obtain those without the JCPOA.

On 5 January, Iran announced its fifth and – according to its own announcement - final step in the reduction of its nuclear commitments under the deal. This is a worrisome announcement, but it is important to see what the International Atomic Energy Agency reports on how Iran implements this step. As the Coordinator of the JCPOA, I have been in touch with all the participants on the diplomatic way forward, seeking to preserve unity in the group.

You will have heard that earlier today, the Foreign Ministers of France [Jean-Yves Le Drian], Germany [Heiko Maas] and the United Kingdom [Dominic Raab] have invoked paragraph 36, the so called Dispute Resolution Mechanism [under the JCPOA] and informed me in my capacity as Coordinator because I believe that Iran is not meeting its nuclear commitments, referring to the five steps that Iran has taken so far.

As Coordinator of the Joint Commission, I will guarantee that the Dispute Resolution Mechanism provides an opportunity to address the issues indicated by France, Germany and the UK. I will oversee this process, and I will be in touch with all the participants on the next steps.

I want to underline here that the Dispute Resolution Mechanism is first and foremost a process to resolve issues related to the deal implementation. The objective of the Dispute Resolution Mechanism will be therefore to find solutions and return to full compliance within the framework of this deal. It is not a matter of puttingsanctions – as I saw some newspapers had been claiming this morning. All remaining participants in the agreement have been clear of their determination to preserve the JCPOA. This unity is crucial and I intend to work hard to preserve it.

Our position, the European Union position, is clear. Without this deal we would lose a crucial element of the international non-proliferation architecture and an important contribution to regional security. A failure to preserve the deal can only add further tensions in the region.

Mr President, the recent escalation we have witnessed has a broader regional dimension. Tensions in Iraq reflect several of the region’s fractures, and have the potential to affect difficult situations elsewhere in the region, from Syria, to Lebanon, to Yemen and beyond. In short, the stakes are extremely high, for Iraq, for the region as a whole, for the world, and of course for us.

In this context, already for months, there have been calls for Europe, for the European Union, to play a bigger role, given we speak to all – all means all – and we are not, as a group, perceived as having a hidden agenda. Our partners see us as standing for dialogue and peaceful and negotiated resolutions of disputes.

As I mentioned at the beginning, last Friday I convened the extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council. During the meeting, we once again reaffirmed our call for urgent de-escalation and maximum restraint. We also reaffirmed our steadfast support for Iraq’s unity, independence and territorial integrity, and underlined our commitment to our partnership with Iraq, and to our continued support for the stability and reconstruction of this country. We also underlined our joint determination to preserving the JCPOA, which we strongly believe to be in all our shared interests and in the interest of the region for peace and security. We also were very clear that a durable solution to the ongoing crisis can only be regional, and that we would continue to explore the role that the European Union can play on that.

With the strong backing of the Council and the Commission, I will personally continue to remain engaged on all of these issues, as I said, talking with everybody, travelling everywhere, and I am looking forward to work with you to promote safety, security and prosperity in the region which is strongly and dangerously jeopardised by the last events.

Thank you Mr President, thank you Members.