ID : N-1776 Date : 2018/05/15 - 12:20
(Persia Digest) - Speaking about the EU role in preventing the impact of US secondary sanctions on Iran, Richard Nephew says: “The EU can potentially do this, but it will have to act fast and aggressively if it is to both dissuade U.S. sanctions pressure on European companies and provide assurance to European companies.”
President Trump has finally made good on his campaign promise and withdrawn the US from the JCPOA, reimposing the most stringent sanctions on Iran. In return, Iran has said that if the other signatories to the deal remain in the JCPOA and guarantee its financial benefits for Iran, it will also stay in the deal. The EU, China, and Russia continue to talk about the importance of keeping the JCPOA.
Persia Digest has conducted an interview on the future of the Iran nuclear deal with Richard Nephew. From 2013 to 2015, Nephew served as the principal deputy for inaugural Coordinator for Sanctions Policy Dan Fried at the U.S. State Department. During this period, he also served as the lead sanctions expert for the U.S. team negotiating with Iran from August 2013 to December 2014.
You can read the interview here:
If Iran continues to remain committed to the JCPOA, can the EU prevent secondary US sanctions against private European companies in order to keep their commercial and financial ties with Iran? The EU already had the experience of the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 (ILSA). What are Europe's options now to prevent US secondary sanctions against Iran and to what extent?
The EU can potentially do this, but it will have to act fast and aggressively if it is to both dissuade U.S. sanctions pressure on European companies and provide assurance to European companies. There are many options, from blocking legislation to retaliatory sanctions, that could be considered. But, of course, these come with risks and costs to Europe as well.
India and China are Iran’s biggest oil customers. If Iran continues to stay in the JCPOA, how would you assess a response by India and China after the implementation of US sanctions? Will they gradually reduce buying oil from Iran?
I do not believe China will cooperate with the U.S. sanctions push. I think the Chinese will dare the United States to impose sanctions against them, and I think Trump's backing down on sanctions on the Chinese firm ZTE will convince them this will work. On India, I think much will depend on the Indian perception of whether they can still work with Trump on other priorities (like Pakistan).
► US concerns have nothing to do with the JCPOA
► John Tirman: Sanctions will not be re-imposed in JCPOA
► Iran must engage in NPT subject to full JCPOA implementation
To what extent will US sanctions be effective and impact Iran if it stays in the JCPOA?
Well, it all really depends on what the Europeans and others do in response. I do think that it is in Iran's best interest to stay within the JCPOA and to make the argument to Europe and elsewhere that sanctions will worsen, not improve, the situation.
It seems President Trump is trying to force Iran to leave the JCPOA in order to justify the need for new negotiations. With your knowledge of the Iranian leadership, do you think there is a chance of new negotiations according to Trump’s views if Iran leaves the JCPOA?
I do think that this is part of Trump's logic (though perhaps not that of some of his advisors). My own suspicion is that Iran's leaders will be very disinclined to ever negotiate on a new agreement with this U.S. president, as there has now been a fundamental breach of trust and confidence.
Richard Nephew is a nonresident senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Program and affiliated with the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative housed within the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence.
From 2013 to 2015, Nephew served as the principal deputy for inaugural Coordinator for Sanctions Policy Dan Fried at the U.S. State Department. During this period, Nephew also served as the lead sanctions expert for the U.S. team negotiating with Iran from August 2013 to December 2014. From 2011 to 2013, Nephew was a director for Iran at the National Security Council (NSC), where he was responsible for the development and execution of the U.S. sanctions strategy toward Iran, as well as for the nuclear negotiations. While at the NSC, Nephew supervised a dramatic expansion of U.S. and foreign sanctions against Iran, including through the development and implementation of six new executive orders signed by President Obama during Nephew’s tenure.