My op-ed on today’s Guardian. Read it here on their website
One year ago this week, the European Union, China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, the US and Iran began to implement the joint comprehensive plan of action on Iran’s nuclear programme. This agreement was the result of brave choices, political leadership, collective determination and hard work. A year on, we can clearly say that the Iran deal is working and we need to maintain it.
To those critics who have raised concerns, both about the terms of the agreement or about the very idea of having an agreement at all with Iran, I say: take a close look at the facts.
The agreement has already paid off by addressing a highly contentious and longstanding dispute in a peaceful manner. In its absence, today we might be facing one more military conflict, in a region that is already far too destabilised.
The deal, one year after its implementation, is delivering on its main purpose: ensuring the purely peaceful, civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. The International Atomic Energy Agency – the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog – has issued four reports on the matter and has regularly verified that Iran is complying with its nuclear-related obligations. This means that the Iranian nuclear programme has been significantly reformatted and downsized and is now subject to intense monitoring by the IAEA. The joint commission – which I coordinate – oversees constantly the implementation of the agreement, meeting regularly, which allows us to detect even minor possible deviations and to take necessary corrective measures if the need arises.
The deal is also working for Iran. Major companies are investing in the country: the oil sector, the automotive industry, commercial aircraft, just to give a few examples, are areas where significant contracts have been concluded. The International Monetary Fund has forecast real GDP growth in Iran to rebound to 6.6% in 2016-17.
More work is needed, for sure, including domestic economic reforms, to make these positive results trickle down to the Iranian population, especially its youth. But the trend is absolutely clear, and progress undeniable. Trade between the EU and Iran has risen by a staggering 63% over the first three quarters of last year. After more than 30 years of a diplomatic ice age, the EU and Iran are also discussing cooperation on matters as diverse as the economy, protection of the environment, migration, and culture – and the list could continue.
Therefore – and despite criticism that deceitfully stresses the deal’s perceived shortcomings and overlooks its proven benefits – it is important to state very clearly: the nuclear agreement with Iran is working.
There should be no doubt that the EU stands firmly by the deal, which is a multilateral endeavour. It was borne out of the efforts of the “E3/EU+3” – Britain, Germany, France plus the US, Russia and China – and Iran, but it now belongs to the entire international community, through its endorsement by the UN security council.
Without the agreement, the regional situation would be even more alarming. And we would be losing a historic opportunity if we missed the chance to build a more cooperative regional environment.
Against a dramatic regional background, the nuclear deal is a glimpse of what is possible in international relations, by tackling the conflicts affecting the region in a cooperative manner.
We can mark the first anniversary of the start of the implementation of the nuclear deal by clearly saying that it is working, thanks to the commitment and determination of all. And we can start 2017 by reaffirming our strong collective interest in living up to the commitments we have all made, building security not only for the region but for the entire world.