E3 on JCPOA and Dispute Resolution Mechanism

Well, here it is. The important part:

We have therefore been left with no choice, given Iran’s actions, but to register today our concerns that Iran is not meeting its commitments under the JCPoA and to refer this matter to the Joint Commission under the Dispute Resolution Mechanism, as set out in paragraph 36 of the JCPoA.

We do this in good faith with the overarching objective of preserving the JCPoA and in the sincere hope of finding a way forward to resolve the impasse through constructive diplomatic dialogue, while preserving the agreement and remaining within its framework. In doing so, our 3 countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran. Our hope is to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPoA.

And here’s JCPOA paragraph 36.

If Iran believed that any or all of the E3/EU+3 were not meeting their commitments under this JCPOA, Iran could refer the issue to the Joint Commission for resolution; similarly, if any of the E3/EU+3 believed that Iran was not meeting its commitments under this JCPOA, any of the E3/EU+3 could do the same. The Joint Commission would have 15 days to resolve the issue, unless the time period was extended by consensus. After Joint Commission consideration, any participant could refer the issue to Ministers of Foreign Affairs, if it believed the compliance issue had not been resolved. Ministers would have 15 days to resolve the issue, unless the time period was extended by consensus. After Joint Commission consideration – in parallel with (or in lieu of) review at the Ministerial level – either the complaining participant or the participant whose performance is in question could request that the issue be considered by an Advisory Board, which would consist of three members (one each appointed by the participants in the dispute and a third independent member). The Advisory Board should provide a non-binding opinion on the compliance issue within 15 days. If, after this 30-day process the issue is not resolved, the Joint Commission would consider the opinion of the Advisory Board for no more than 5 days in order to resolve the issue. If the issue still has not been resolved to the satisfaction of the complaining participant, and if the complaining participant deems the issue to constitute significant non- performance, then that participant could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part and/or notify the UN Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance.

A colleague helpfully pointed out the number of areas for wiggle room in terms of timelines and responses. The relevant portions are in bold.

I think this post became a bit more relevant today.

1 thought on “E3 on JCPOA and Dispute Resolution Mechanism

  1. Mark HIbbs

    According to people talking yesterday in Brussels, it would appear that in EU circles it is being taken for granted that the timelines for the DRM are going to be extended.

    If so, that’s apparently because there is 1.) no confidence that the issues dividing Iran , the EU3, plus Russia plus China (both opposed invoking the DRM) can be resolved a month’s time, and/or 2.) that all parties will reach the conclusion that it would be constructive to extend the timeline in the interest of creating a forum for longer-term discussion of the kinds of political issues ultimately at stake in Iran’s violations of its commitments as distinct from the technical/procedural/legal issues that the DRM was intended to address.

    What would any party to the agreement stand to gain in blocking a consensus to extend the DRM timeline? Perhaps Russia and/or China might consider doing that, if either wished to snuff out the DRM proceeding without it having reached a conclusion of Iranian non-performance after a month. China and/or Russia could in this way perhaps challenge the EU3 to force a decision over non-performance by Iran–a decision that the EU states may be loathe to make. Would the EU states seek a non-performance verdict if they are confident that Russia and or China would stand in the way of that consensus result? Optics would matter. China and Russia would have to decide whether their interests would be advanced or set back by objecting to a non-performance determination by the EU states. In any event, at this point it can be assumed that neither China nor Russia would step forth to trigger snap-back sanctions, and the EU3 themselves may also not want to walk that plank after a month should the DRM timeline run out without a consensus agreement to extend it.

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