Iran has warned that it may leave the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in case European countries go ahead with their plan to invoke the dispute resolution mechanism under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the United Nations Security Council. The announcement by Iran came on January 20 after it alleged US influence behind the move.
The JCPOA dispute settlement mechanism had been triggered earlier this month by the UK, France and Germany after Iran announced on January 6 that it will scrap all limits on its nuclear programme. If the dispute is taken to the Security Council, it may lead to the re-imposition of UN sanctions on Iran, which were lifted after the signing of the nuclear deal in 2015.
Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif reiterated the point made earlier by president Hasan Rouhani in a letter sent to all the signatories of the deal after the US announced its unilateral withdrawal in May 2018. According to him, the European signatories had failed to fulfil their commitments under the deal, despite the repeated reminders sent by Iran in the last one year. Zarif claimed that the recent move by the three European powers is “legally unviable” and akin to toeing the US line on Iran.
Iran has been asking these countries to devise ways to help it deal with the illegal sanctions imposed by the US after its unilateral withdrawal. However, after the Europeans failed to come forward to help, Iran began scaling down its commitments under the deal.
Iran insists that according to article 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, it has the right to scale back its commitments and even withdraw from the deal if other signatories fail to fulfil their part of the bargain. Javad Zarif has reiterated that all these moves are reversible if the other parties start fulfilling their part of the bargain.
Iran is one of the signatories of the 1968 NPT which prohibits the development of nuclear weapons by countries other than those who already have nuclear deal at the time of its signing in exchange for certain nuclear technological benefits and cooperation. Post-revolutionary governments in Iran have remained committed to the deal and consistently denied all allegations that it wants to develop a nuclear weapon.