The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, is refusing to give up on efforts to rescue the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, even as Tehran cracks down on protesters at home and helps Russia in its conflict against Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal
On a secure train returning from an EU leaders trip to Kyiv, Mr. Borrell told The Wall Street Journal that critics of his efforts to revive the pact perhaps “don’t value enough” the dangers of a nuclear Iran.
“As far as I know, there is not an alternative to this deal to try to avoid Iran becoming nuclear,” he said.
With the Biden administration appearing to be increasingly indifferent to the accord’s fate, Mr. Borrell - who is the coordinator of the nuclear negotiations - has found himself under attack from opponents of the pact. They see him as personifying Europe’s attachment to the deal, which lifted most international sanctions on Iran in exchange for strict but temporary restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program.
France, Britain and Germany - who negotiated the 2015 deal alongside the U.S. with Iran - remain supportive of reviving the deal. However most European diplomats are gloomy about the agreement’s survival.
The 75-year-old veteran Spanish politician is also under pressure from Tehran. Iran has warned that EU sanctions on Iran and a German proposal to list Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization could lead to a collapse in ties and risks to European security.
Mr. Borrell, who has sometimes landed himself in trouble for his plain speaking, insists his role as coordinator of the nuclear diplomacy doesn’t stop him pressing Tehran over its actions at home or abroad. He speaks regularly to Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
“Look, I can tell you my last conversation: Stop capital punishment. Stop repression…So if you continue on this way, you will make (it) impossible to have any kind of political arrangement.”
Mr. Borrell’s claim that the 2015 agreement is the only way to stop Iran going nuclear is one that opponents of reviving the dispute over the nuclear deal. In the U.S., the ranks of skeptics about the diplomacy have swelled recently to include some people who strongly supported the deal in 2015.