UK, France, and Germany Maintain Sanctions on Iran Over Concerns of Missile Sales to Russia
European nations accuse Iran of breaching 2015 nuclear deal; sanctions aimed at preventing missile transfers and maintaining nuclear-related measures.
In an effort to deter Iran from selling drones and missiles to Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany have announced their decision to retain sanctions on Iran. These sanctions were originally set to be lifted next month as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. However, European nations allege that Iran violated the deal by enriching and storing uranium, a claim Iran vehemently denies, calling it "illegal and provocative."
The primary motivation behind the sanctions is not just to curb Iran's economic gains but also to reduce the risk of Tehran transferring ballistic missiles to Russia. Iran has already sold numerous drones to Moscow, which have been employed in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
The European powers, collectively known as the E3, have declared that these sanctions are designed to "maintain nuclear proliferation-related measures on Iran, as well as arms and missile embargoes." To enforce these measures, the E3 intends to incorporate expiring United Nations sanctions into their own laws.
Despite the sanctions, Iranian-made drones have found their way into Russia's military arsenal, further complicating the situation in Ukraine.
Separately, the United Kingdom has imposed sanctions on Iranian officials responsible for drafting and implementing mandatory hijab legislation in Iran. This move comes ahead of the first anniversary of Mahsa Amini's death. Her tragic demise, following her arrest by morality police for alleged hijab rule violations, sparked a wave of protests.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by Iran and the P5+1 group, which includes the US, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany, eight years ago, aimed to limit Iran's sensitive nuclear activities and allow international inspectors in exchange for lifting crippling economic sanctions. The agreement also prohibited the buying, selling, or transferring of drones and missiles to and from Iran.
The JCPOA envisioned a "transition day" when remaining ballistic missile and nuclear-related sanctions on Iran would be lifted, set to occur eight years after the agreement's signing. These sanctions included an asset freeze on individuals and organizations believed to be aiding Iran's nuclear program.
Countries such as Russia and China will no longer be bound by these restrictions if they fail to adopt sanctions similar to those imposed by the UK, France, and Germany before October 18th.
The E3 has stated that these sanctions will persist until Iran achieves full compliance with the JCPOA. Iran, on the other hand, insists that the E3's decision violates both the JCPOA and UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls upon Iran to refrain from any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
The E3 contends that their decision is in accordance with the JCPOA, as Iran has "refused opportunities to return to the JCPOA twice" and has "continued to expand its program beyond JCPOA limitations without any credible civilian justification."
It is worth noting that in 2018, then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the JCPOA, further complicating the international efforts to maintain the nuclear deal.