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Group statement | 18 September 2017

ELN Group Statement: Sustaining the 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 reproduced below.


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.
  • Jeopardising 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


United Kingdom
1. Rt Hon. Margaret Beckett MP, current Member of Parliament, former British Foreign Secretary
2. Admiral the Lord Michael Boyce GCB OBE DL, member of the House of Lords, former First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy, and former Chief of the Defence Staff
3. Sir Tony Brenton, former UK Ambassador to Russia
4. Lord Browne of Ladyton (Des Browne), Chair of the ELN, Vice Chairman of the NTI, and former UK Defence Secretary
5. The Rt Hon. the Lord Campbell of Pittenweem CH CBE QC (Sir Menzies Campbell), member of the House of Lords,, former member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and member of the UK Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
6. Rt Hon. Charles Clarke, former Home Secretary
7. Lord Hannay of Chiswick (David Hannay), former Ambassador to the EU and to the UN, current Chair of UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Security and Non-Proliferation in the UK Parliament
8. Lord Alfred Dubs, Member of the House of Lords
9. Sir Nick Harvey, former Member of Parliament and former Minister of State for the Armed Forces
10. John Kerr, independent member of the House of Lords, former British Ambassador to the United States and the EU
11. General Sir John McColl, Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey, Former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Deputy SACEUR)
12. Tom McKane, former Director General for Strategy and Security Policy, Ministry of Defence
13. Lord David Owen, former British Foreign Secretary; Independent Social Democrat Peer in the House of Lords
14. General the Lord Ramsbotham GCB CBE (David Ramsbotham), Retired General Army, Former Adjutant General, Former ADC General to HM the Queen
15. General The Lord Richards of Herstmonceux GCB, CBE, DSO, DL (David Richards), former Chief of the Defence Staff, member of the House of Lords
16. The Rt Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind KCMG QC, former Foreign Secretary, former Defence Secretary
17. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen (George Robertson), former Defence Secretary, former Secretary General of NATO
18. The Rt Hon. Sir John Stanley, former Minister for the Armed Forces, former Chairman of the Committees on Arms Export Controls
19. Sir Adam Thomson KCMG, Director of the European Leadership Network, former UK Permanent Representative to NATO, former British High Commissioner to Pakistan
20. Lord Triesman (David Triesman), former Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), former Chairman of the Football Association and former General Secretary of the Labour Party
21. Admiral the Lord West of Spithead (Alan West), former First Sea Lord of the British Navy and current member of the House of Lords
22. Lord Wallace (William Wallace), Member of the House of Lords, Former Lord in Waiting

23. Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, current Chair of the Munich Security Conference and co-chair of the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative, former Deputy Foreign Minister of Germany
24. General (Ret.) Klaus Naumann, Former Chief of Staff of the German armed forces, Former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
25. Volker Rühe, former Defence Minister
26. Karsten Voigt, former Coordinator of German-North American Cooperation at the Federal Foreign Office, former President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, member of the board of the German Council on Foreign Relations and member of the board of the Aspen Institute Germany
27. Dr. Klaus Wittmann, former Bundeswehr general, Senior Fellow Aspen Institute Germany
28. Uta Zapf, former Chairwoman of the German Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

29. Benoit d’Aboville, former Permanent Representative to NATO, Vice President of “Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique” in Paris
30. General (Ret.) Bernard Norlain, former Air Defence Commander and Air Combat Commander in the French Air Force and Military Advisor to Prime Minister Michel Rocard
31. Paul Quilès, former Minister of Defence

32. Dr. Evgeny Buzhinskiy, Lieutenant-General (Retired), Chairman of the Executive Board of PIR Center
33. Ambassador Alexander Bessmertnykh, Former Foreign Minister
34. Igor Ivanov, former Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, former Foreign Minister of Russia
35. Ambassador Boris Pankin, Ambassador of RF (Ret), former Foreign Minister of the USSR (1991)
36. Dr. Dmitry Polikanov, Chairman of the Trialogue Club and member of the Expert Council of the Russian Government
37. Dr. Sergey Rogov, Director of Institute for US and Canadian Studies Moscow, Russia
38. General Vyacheslav Trubnikov, former First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service
39. Igor Yurgens, Chairman of the Management Board of the Institute of Contemporary Development

40. Ana Palacio, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, former member of the European Parliament
41. Javier Solana, former NATO Secretary General and former European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy

42. Ambassador Giancarlo Aragona, former Secretary General of OSCE, Ambassador to London and Moscow and Italian representative to the Albright Group for the drafting of NATO’s “New Strategic Concept”
43. Margherita Boniver, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
44. Professor Francesco Calogero, Former Secretary-General of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
45. General (Ret) Vincenzo Camporini, former Chief of the Joint Defence Staff, former Chief of Staff of the Air Force
46. Giorgio La Malfa, former Minister for European Affairs
47. Paolo Cotta-Ramusino, Secretary General of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
48. Stefano Silvestri, President of the International Affairs Institute of Italy, consultant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministries of Defence and Industry
49. Stefano Stefanini, former Permanent Representative to NATO, former Diplomatic Advisor to the President of Italy
50. Ambassador Carlo Trezza, former Member of the Advisory Board of the UN Secretary General for Disarmament Matters and Chairman of the Missile Technology Control Regime
51. Professor Carlo Schaerf, Former Professor of Physics at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”

52. Marietje Schaake, Member of the European Parliament
53. Klaas de Vries, former Minister for Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations

54. Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Prime Minister of Norway
55. Dr Gro Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO)

56. Wolfgang Petritsch, former EU Special Envoy to Kosovo and former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina

57. Dr Solomon Passy, former Foreign Minister
58. Professor Todor Tagarev, former Defence Minister, Head of “IT for Security” Department & the Centre for Security and Defence Management IICT at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

59. Ambassador Budimir Loncar, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of former Yugoslavia
60. Professor Ivo Šlaus, former member of parliament and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee

Czech Republic
61. Jan Kavan, former President of the UN General Assembly, former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic

62. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, former Minister for Foreign Affairs
63. Mogens Lykketoft, former Foreign Minister and former President of the UN General Assembly

64. Ambassador Jaakko Blomberg, former Ambassador to Canada and Estonia
65. Dr. Tarja Cronberg, former Member of the European Parliament, Distinguished Associate Fellow at SIPRI
66. Admiral Juhani Kaskeala, former Chief of Defence
67. Ambassador Jaakko Laajava, former Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Security Policy and Facilitator of the WMDFZ in the Middle East.
68. Professor Raimo Väyrynen, former Director at Finnish Institute of International Affairs

69. Ambassador Tedo Japaridze, Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and former Minister of Foreign Affairs

70. Ambassador Balázs Csuday, former Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations
71. János Martonyi, former Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs

72. Janusz Onyszkiewicz, former Defence Minister, former Vice-President of the European Parliament, Chairman of the Euro-Atlantic Association Council (Poland)
73. Professor Dr. Adam Daniel Rotfeld, former Minister of Foreign Affairs

74. Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, former Swedish Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament
75. Henrik Salander, former Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, Secretary-General of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission

76. Hikmet Çetin, former Foreign Minister
77. Vahit Erdem, Ambassador, former head of the Turkish Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and former Secretary General of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey
78. Ambassador Osman Faruk Loğoğlu, former Turkish Ambassador the United States and former Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
79. Özdem Sanberk, Ambassador, former Undersecretary of the MFA

80. Oleksandr Chalyi, former First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, former Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Ukraine.


The opinions articulated above represent the views of the signatories, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its other members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security challenges of our time.