JCPOA parties unlikely to accept US argument to extend arms embargo on Iran: ex-CIA official

01 May 2020 | 00:00 Code : 1991160 From the Other Media General category
JCPOA parties unlikely to accept US argument to extend arms embargo on Iran: ex-CIA official

Professor Paul Pillar, who was CIA intelligence analyst for 28 years, says the Trump administration is arguing that it is still a party to the JCPOA even though it has grossly violated its obligations under the agreement. 

Pillar says, “Indeed, previous declarations by the administration have been nothing short of a complete renunciation of the JCPOA.  Other parties to the agreement, especially Russia and China, are unlikely to accept the U.S. argument.”  

“Other members of the Council realize that it was the United States under the Trump administration that violated the JCPOA and went directly against Security Council Resolution 2231, which is the formal international endorsement of the JCPOA,” Pillar tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: The United States is working to extend arms sanctions on Iran in the UN Security Council. Given that the United States has violated and withdrawn from the JCPOA, can it legally make such a request?

A: As a permanent member of the Security Council, the United States can make requests for Council action on all sorts of things.  The legality of the request is not really the issue.  Other members of the Council realize that it was the United States under the Trump administration that violated the JCPOA and went directly against Security Council Resolution 2231, which is the formal international endorsement of the JCPOA.  For that and other reasons, the Trump administration can expect substantial resistance to its attempt to extend the arms embargo.

Q: The United States, despite violating the JCPOA, is set to establish itself as a participant in the agreement. Why is the United States looking for this?

A: The Trump administration has been using every means possible to put every form of pressure it can on Iran.  It argues that it still should be considered a participant in the JCPOA so that it can use the "snapback" mechanism the agreement established to restore sanctions on Iran that had previously been lifted.

Q: If the United States fails to extend arms sanctions on Iran, it is likely to turn to a trigger mechanism. How can the U.S. do it legally?

A: The Trump administration is arguing that it is still a party to the agreement even though it has grossly violated its obligations under the agreement.  Indeed, previous declarations by the administration have been nothing short of a complete renunciation of the JCPOA.  Other parties to the agreement, especially Russia and China, are unlikely to accept the U.S. argument.  They will say that the only reasonable interpretation is that the United States can be either in the agreement or out of it and that it cannot renounce its own obligations while using the agreement to impose punishment on one of the other parties.  Parties other than the United States are fully aware that although Iran has exceeded some of the limits on uranium enrichment specified in the JCPOA, this was in direct response to the U.S. violations.

Q: Do European countries want to activate the trigger mechanism and take Iran's case to the UN Security Council?

A: The Europeans felt obliged to start the dispute resolution process when Iran progressively exceeded the enrichment limits of the JCPOA.  But the European goal all along has been to salvage the agreement, not kill it.  The European preference probably is not to take the case to the Security Council but rather to buy time and extend the dispute resolution process until after the U.S. presidential election, in the hope that a new administration will take office.

Interview by Javad Heirannia

Source: Tehran Times