Efforts to cool down tensions

Russian President V. Putin has proposed to hold an online summit of world leaders to discuss the Iran nuclear issue in order to avoid a confrontation in US-Iran relations. The effort to “cool down” tensions came after the US warned to trigger the re-imposition of all United Nations (UN) sanctions against Iran.

The Russian leader’s proposal was made after the UN Security Council rejected the U.S.-drafted resolution to extend the current arms embargo against Iran. Under Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that Iran signed with P5+1 (including five members of the Security Council and Germany) in 2015, the arms embargo against Iran will expire on October 18.

The fact that even European countries such as the UK, France, and Germany do not support the draft resolution proposed by the US has caused disappointment in Washington.

U.S. President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said that the US will use other tools, including harsher measures at the United Nations against Iran. Despite withdrawing from the JCPOA, the US has threatened to use a provision in the agreement to re-activate all UN sanctions on Iran. If the move goes ahead, analysts say, it could threaten to dissolve the historic nuclear deal, as it would undermine the main impetus for Iran to comply with its operational restriction commitments in the Teheran nuclear programme.

In order to save the nuclear deal from the brink of collapse, Russia aims to host an online summit to find a solution to ensure security in the Gulf as well as take into account all of related parties' concerns. In a phone call with his US counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister X. Lavrov affirmed that Moscow fully supports Security Council Resolution 2231 which set the legal basis for the nuclear agreement.

The signing of this agreement, he stressed, is a major political and diplomatic breakthrough to strengthen nuclear weapons control and security in the Middle East. China welcomed and highly appreciated the Russian proposal, affirmed its willingness to continue to maintain close contact and coordination with all concerned parties to jointly promote a political solution on the nuclear issue in Iran.

France and the UK also emphasised the need to give priority to maintaining a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear problem. However, President D. Trump announced that he would not attend any meetings, showing that Washington is determined to pursue a tough policy towards Iran. The US President even confirmed he would seek to re-impose UN sanctions on Iran through the next moves.

In preparation for all scenarios in the implementation of the “maximum pressure” policy on Iran, the US State Department recently scaled up Teheran sanctions involving metals, targeting 22 special materials, including steel, aluminium, etc., that are believed to be used in nuclear weapons or ballistic missile development programmes.

Sanctions would allow Washing to “blacklist” anyone who intentionally transferred materials such as graphite, raw or pre-engineered metals to or from Iraq. Meanwhile, continuing to strengthen measures to tighten unilateral sanctions on Iran, the US has recently confiscated four Iranian fuel shipments that had been bound for Venezuela. The amount confiscated from four tankers was about 1.116 million barrels of fuel, making it the largest-ever U.S. seizure of Iranian fuel.

Having described the JCPOA as “the worst deal ever negotiated” by the previous administration, President D. Trump is continuing to take tough steps towards Iran. The “tit-for-tat” moves between the US and Iran increased the confrontation in handling problems between the two sides. The current international effort to prioritise a diplomatic solution in resolving bitter disagreements between the US and Iran has helped in maintaining stability in the region.