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Sustaining the Iran Nuclear Deal

ELN Group Statement

Marietje Schaake supported the below statement, alongside 75 other Europeans, which calls on President Trump to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.

76 Europeans call on President Trump to preserve Iran nuclear deal

Next month the US Administration concludes its review of relations with Iran and addresses its next requirement to report to the US Congress on whether Tehran continues to comply with the Iran nuclear deal. Credible reports suggest that President Trump is seeking a way to justify declaring that Iran is no longer compliant with the deal.

The statement’s signatories, who include George Robertson, former British Defence Secretary and former NATO Secretary General, Wolfgang Ischinger, Chair of the Munich Security Conference, Javier Solana, former EU High Representative and NATO Secretary General, and Igor Ivanov, former Russian Foreign Minister, argue that not certifying Iran’s compliance on spurious grounds would damage not only US interests but also US international standing. They express their support for the nuclear deal arguing that it has improved global and European security and losing it would be particularly damaging to Europe.

The full statement is below. A PDF version, along with a full list of signatories, is available here.


Sustaining the Iran Deal 

The extension of the sanctions relief to Iran announced by the US administration on 14 September was welcome. But, we remain greatly concerned by reports that the US Administration might unilaterally declare Tehran non-compliant with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”) in mid-October at the next US decision point on maintaining sanctions relief.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has verified and confirms that Iran continues to be compliant with the terms of the JCPOA. In fact, according to the IAEA Director General, “Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime”.

Unilateral US action that jeopardized the JCPOA would be a grave mistake. It would harm US interests and US credibility in Europe and more widely. It would damage cooperation in the UN Security Council. It would make it harder to keep Iran and its region non-nuclear and more difficult for the United States and her Allies to tackle unacceptable Iranian behaviour. Would it make sense to precipitate a second nuclear crisis alongside that with North Korea?

Like any other negotiation, no side got all they wanted from the agreement. It does not pretend to end all grounds for mutual hostility. It is of limited duration. Its sole purpose is to close off all pathways to Iran’s potential acquisition of a nuclear weapon.

But it does at least do this. Since the agreement, Iran has dismantled two thirds of its uranium enrichment centrifuges, capped enrichment by the remainder, shipped out more than 10,000 kilograms of uranium, halted work on its plutonium-producing reactor, exported the spent fuel and allowed unprecedented access to its nuclear facilities and supply chain.

As a result, the agreement has materially improved the outlook for Europe’s and the world’s security, as predicted in the July 2015 statement by ELN members, which saw the JCPOA as “just a first step in a process which must increase the level of the security of all countries in the Middle East, Europe and beyond”.

For as long as Iran complies, the agreement deserves to be defended:

  • Unilateral action by any side would play into the hands of hardliners who wish to subvert the deal for reasons that lie outside it and who would only be strengthened by the agreement’s weakening.
  • Jeopardizing the agreement would not make Iran less likely to acquire nuclear weapons. On the contrary, it could precipitate another Middle East crisis that would, at the least, distract from international counter-terrorism efforts.
  • Trying to use the JCPOA to control Iran’s missile programme would make the best the enemy of the good: the agreement means Iran’s missiles will not carry nuclear warheads and it already may have helped redirect Iran's missile programme away from ICBM development.
  • US concerns would gain more respect and support if pursued multilaterally. This would make it easier for America’s allies to help address the other ways in which Iran undermines security in the Middle East.

The European Union, Moscow, Beijing, London, Paris and Berlin are also signatories of this multilateral agreement. Europe has a larger stake than the United States in the strict enforcement of the Iran nuclear deal, a larger stake in the increased security that it provides, a larger stake in whether or not Iran goes nuclear, and a larger stake in countering any non-nuclear Iranian misbehaviour. Europe at this moment should not stand idly by.

We therefore urge the deal’s European signatories – the European Union and the German, French, Russian and British governments – to make clear publicly as well as privately in Washington that:

  • While they remain keen to explore legitimate US concerns, not certifying Iranian compliance when the IAEA says Iran is in compliance would be unwarranted and they would not be in a position to support the United States on this in the Security Council;
  • They would work to see the nuclear deal continued with Iran, even in the absence of US participation, and that could include defending European companies and individuals from any re-introduced US sanctions and supporting legal action to do so.
  • They remain keen to work with the United States and the region to tackle broader questions of Iran’s foreign and security policy, such as its missile development and support for Hezbollah, which will require a mix of push-back, containment and dialogue;
  • If in these circumstances US nuclear-related sanctions on Iran were re-imposed, there would be unavoidable damage to the United States’ international standing that would put additional pressure on US-Europe relations.

And we urge President Trump and the US Congress to:

  • Address the facts of Iranian compliance on the terms of the deal, not on other points.
  • Consider that this multinational nuclear deal cannot be expected to solve non-nuclear issues and should not be instrumentalised in pursuit of bilateral confrontation.
  • Engage with the machinery of the JCPOA to address any US compliance concerns multilaterally.
  • Build on the deal to see whether it can be increased in duration and extended in scope to other countries of the region, as recently urged by leading US and ELN voices.
  • Accept that the fastest path to an Iranian nuclear weapon would be to undermine this agreement.

September 2017