EU may ease pressure on IRGC to revive JCPOA: Reports
Eyeing doing business in Iran, the European Union seems to be adopting a more "lenient' approach toward Iran, unlike the US.
The European Union proposed easing sanctions on Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) in order to revive the Iranian nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Politico reported on Friday.
The proposal, brokered by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in coordination with US officials, is not seeking the suspension of sanctions against the IRGC but may "significantly limit their effectiveness," the news outlet said.
"Non-US persons doing business with Iranian persons that are not on the [US sanctions list] will not be exposed to sanctions merely as a result of those Iranian persons engaging in separate transactions involving Iranian persons on the [US sanctions list] (including the IRGC, its officials, or its subsidiaries or affiliates)," the proposal says, as quoted by Politico.
If the draft resolution is adopted, it would allow companies in the European Union to do business in Iran, evading US and EU sanctions.
The details of the draft were finalized in Vienna, Austria, after 16 months of talks. In light of close EU-US coordination, the terms of the draft suggest that the United States under the Biden administration is prepared to make greater concessions to secure a deal with Tehran.
Following the publication of the Politico report, US special envoy to the Vienna talks, Rob Malley, told the outlet that the United States was not changing its standards or rules in terms of sanction enforcement.
"To be clear: We have not engaged in any negotiation about changing due diligence, know-your-customer, or other US sanctions compliance standards for sanctions that would remain under a mutual return to full [nuclear deal] implementation. Any report to the contrary is flat out wrong," Malley said, while also tweeting a similar comment.
To be clear: We have not engaged in any negotiation about changing due diligence, know-your-customer, or other U.S. sanctions compliance standards for sanctions that would remain under a mutual return to full JCPOA implementation. Any report to the contrary is flat out wrong.— Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley (@USEnvoyIran) August 12, 2022
President Biden dismissed in April a demand from Iran for him to reverse a decision taken by the Trump administration in 2019 to label the IRGC a "terrorist organization". A group of US senators in May signed a resolution declaring that the US should not agree to any deal that would entail the lifting of sanctions on Iran.
Europeans and other non-Americans, under the new proposal brokered by Borrell, are allowed to conduct business with Iranian entities engaged in any sort of transaction with the IRGC under the condition that their primary business partner is not sanctioned by the United States.
Iran is yet to accept the EU proposal, saying earlier in the week that it was still reviewing the proposal.
Russian envoy to the Vienna talks about the Iran nuclear deal, Mikhail Ulyanov, told Al Mayadeen on Sunday that he was "optimistic" about the course the nuclear talks are taking.
Ulyanov revealed that the parties to the agreement were now in the final stage of negotiations. "I don't think that the talks can be prolonged for a long time. It's the time for decision-making in our capitals."
US officials are concerned that the nuclear deal is on the verge of becoming obsolete, as Iran has taken efforts to advance its nuclear program following the adoption of a politically-motivated anti-Iran resolution by the UN.
The Russian and Iranian delegations to the Vienna talks met for the second time last week to discuss the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The team of Iranian negotiators, led by Ali Bagheri Kani, landed in the Austrian capital on Wednesday to continue negotiating with the other parties to the JCPOA to revive the agreement and remove the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.
The new round of talks, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said, will focus on the ideas proposed by the involved parties, including ideas Tehran proposed this week.
Major powers and Iran are holding talks in Vienna with the aim of reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement and returning the United States to it following Washington's unilateral withdrawal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, who accompanied his decision with the imposition of harsh sanctions on Tehran.
In response, Iran gradually withdrew from its commitments under the JCPOA, seeing that the agreement was no longer binding.