M Hibbs on E3 and JCPOA

I should have done this earlier, but I am highlighting a comment from Mark Hibbs in response to this post:

Mark HIbbs
January 16, 2020 at 10:16 am

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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