In an exclusive interview with Iran’s IRNA news agency, which was published on Tuesday, Jan Kickert denounced as "wrong and unjustifiable” a possible move by the current US administration to "decertify” Iran’s compliance with the deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The administration of US President Trump, which took over a year after the JCPOA had come into force, has repeatedly attacked the agreement. While it has twice certified Iranian compliance with the deal in notifications to the US Congress under an American law, the White House has indicated that a third verification — due later this week — would not be offered.
If Trump refuses to certify, the Congress will have 60 days to decide whether to restore the sanctions against the Islamic Republic that the US has agreed to waive under the deal. By potentially re-imposing the nuclear-related bans, the US would be stopping the implementation of major obligations under the agreement, which would practically equal a pullout even if an official declaration of withdrawal was not released.
Kickret said Austria believed that the Islamic Republic has lived up to its commitments under the JCPOA, adding that when one side continues to abide by an agreement, the other sides should do, too.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the official institution tasked with certifying Iranian compliance, has repeatedly confirmed that Iran is adhering to its obligations under the deal.
"If the US decides to impose new sanctions against Iran, this move will not only be regarded as a violation of the spirit of the JCPOA but also a flagrant violation of the letter of this agreement,” Kickret said.
A gaping hole across the Atlantic
He also hoped that the US’s potential re-imposition of sanctions would not disappoint Iran and that the Islamic Republic would continue to remain in the deal. European countries and Russia and China will, he said.
"In case Iran remains a party to the deal,” the Austrian diplomat said, "European countries will do that, too, and the agreement will continue to stand.”
The European parties to the deal and Russia and China have long expressed firm support for the deal. But explicit statements that they will not go along with the US in potentially scrapping the agreement or reimposing sanctions on Iran — such as that of Kickret’s — are coming out more recently as the US is expected shortly to refuse to certify Iranian compliance.
The statements also mark a most vivid split between the US and its closes allies.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that Tehran would not rush to scrap the deal if Washington chose to unilaterally walk away from the agreement and would wait to see how Europe would react, among other things. He has said Iran might decide to "accommodate” Europe if the US withdrew.