The three nations, whose ministers met in Berlin, are hoping Tehran can reach an agreement under which the US would lift its unilateral sanctions in return for Iran’s compliance with the 2015 agreement, the Guardian wrote.
The US administration unleashed the so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran in May 2018, when it left the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In response to US move and EU’s lack of action, Iran scaled back its commitments under the deal.
The pressure campaign has failed in its objectives, including renegotiating the Iran nuclear deal to cover the Islamic Republic’s national defense program and its influential role in the West Asia.
Democratic Joe Biden, who is set to take office on January 20, has said he would return the US to the deal if Tehran resumes the commitments it suspended in response to Washington’s exit and the ensuing European failure to fill in for the US.
Gathering at a government villa outside Berlin on Monday, the foreign ministers Heiko Maas of Germany, Jean-Yves Le Drian of France and Dominic Raab of the UK met to discuss “what a further approach involving all signatories to the JCPOA, and perhaps also with a new US administration, could look like”, according to German officials.
Formal talks between the Biden team and Europe cannot yet start, but the E3 has been urged to act as a mediator between the US and Iran, where a heated debate is under way about how to view the Biden administration’s intentions.
The Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif last week suggested Iran might need guarantees before letting the US rejoin the nuclear deal.
The former EU chief negotiator Federica Mogherini advised the US not to try to negotiate an updated JCPOA too quickly. Speaking at a European Leadership Network event, she said, “I don’t see the possibility of moving on to new elements unless and until JCPOA is fully implemented by both sides. I think this is the starting point and I think we would be mistaken and under a very serious illusion if we were thinking of doing this the other way around.”
Wendy Sherman, the US lead negotiator on the Iran deal between 2011 and 2015, said she believed the Biden team needed to start consultations very quickly with European partners. “Biden has said if Iran is ready to come back into compliance, the US is ready to re-enter, but getting from here to there is complicated,” she said. “Everything is not going to fall back into place on day one.”