By Dr Shireen M Mazari
At the 2017 EU Non Proliferation and Disarmament Conference in Brussels on 12-13 December 2017, the same arguments put forward decades earlier came forth on the same issues. The perspectives remain the same, as do the arguments, although some new issues have come centre-stage now. For instance, North Korea has now also demonstrated categorically that it is an overt nuclear weapon state and no longer a signatory to the NPT; while in July 2015 Iran reaffirmed its intent not to move towards nuclear weapons acquisition by first agreeing to negotiate and then signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the P5 plus 1 (the EU). Then we have President Trump’s efforts to have the US scuttle this critical agreement.
So it was good to see a plenary discussion on the JCPOA in which effectively the EU, the Russians and the Chinese made it clear that they would not allow Trump to destroy the whole agreement. The European speakers agreed that it was also evident that Iran’s missile production was not a violation of the JCPOA; and that Iran had to undergo inspections not only through the JCPOA agreement but also through the Safeguards Additional Protocol signed by Iran – so the two were complementing each other in terms of inspections access.
The Iranian Speaker, Saeed Khatibzadeh made clear that if Iran were denied the benefits of the JCPOA then all voluntary measures under the Additional Safeguards Protocol would be suspended by Iran. As he pointed out, the JCPOA was deliberately kept limited to nonproliferation purpose and sanctions relief. Although the EU states were trying to keep a united front on the JCPOA, clearly some were struggling to do so in the wake of the Trump position.