Josep Borrell
Josep Borrell Reuters

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said on Tuesday that the time has come to make a decision on saving the Iran nuclear deal.

Writing in an op-ed in The Financial Times, Borrell noted his efforts launched in April of last year to bring the US and Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“After 15 months of intense, constructive negotiations in Vienna and countless interactions with the JCPOA participants and the US, I have concluded that the space for additional significant compromises has been exhausted. I have now put on the table a text that addresses, in precise detail, the sanctions lifting as well as the nuclear steps needed to restore the JCPOA,” he wrote.

“This text represents the best possible deal that I, as facilitator of the negotiations, see as feasible. It is not a perfect agreement, but it addresses all essential elements and includes hard-won compromises by all sides. Decisions need to be taken now to seize this unique opportunity to succeed, and to free up the great potential of a fully implemented deal. I see no other comprehensive or effective alternative within reach,” added Borrell.

He acknowledged that “the deal may not have addressed all US concerns with respect to Iran. The EU shares concerns that go beyond the nuclear issue, such as human rights and Iran’s regional activities. We continuously address them with Iran in bilateral discussions. The JCPOA does not address them, and was never supposed to do so. It did, however, provide the benefit of winding down the previously expanding Iranian nuclear program and opening it up to strict IAEA monitoring and inspections. This makes it a cornerstone of the global non-proliferation architecture.”

“Restoring the full implementation of the agreement now can deliver on these benefits again, including through strict limitations on Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity and close monitoring by the IAEA. It can also help bring about a more co-operative security dynamic in the region, creating a positive momentum of confidence building,” he added.

Borrell warned, “Every day with no agreement in Vienna postpones concrete economic benefits to the Iranian people through substantial US sanctions lifting, as well as the benefits of non-proliferation for the world. Concluding an agreement now will deliver significant economic and financial dividends as well as strengthen regional and global security. Rejecting it assures a loss on both accounts — who knows for how long.”

He also warned that if the deal is rejected, “we risk a dangerous nuclear crisis, set against the prospect of increased isolation for Iran and its people. It is our joint responsibility to conclude the deal.”

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters later on Tuesday that Washington was reviewing the "draft understanding" Borrell shared with Iran and other parties to the 2015 deal and would respond directly to the EU.

Iran scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal, in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018, but has held several rounds of indirect talks with the US on a return to the agreement.

An agreement was nearly reached before the talks stopped in March. US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley told lawmakers recently that the prospects for reaching a deal with Iran are “tenuous” at best.

In June, Iran began removing essentially all the monitoring equipment installed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under the 2015 nuclear deal.

Earlier this week, Iran announced it will refuse to turn back on the 27 IAEA cameras until the 2015 nuclear deal is restored.