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We need to negotiate a new agreement with Iran that focuses on human rights, limiting and safeguarding the country's nuclear capacity.
President Trump's "maximum pressure campaign" against Iran has been a bitter failure.
The unilateral pullout from the 2015 nuclear accord and unprecedented sanctions against the country have had the opposite effect of the intended effect, undermining any diplomatic progress and driving Iran away from complying.
Iran, meanwhile, has deliberately violated the deal by storing more than a dozen times the amount of enriched uranium allowed by the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran is now significantly closer to developing a nuclear weapon than ever before. At the same time, Iran has suffered greatly from the sanctions and has increased anti-Western sentiment as a result.
One of Joe Biden & # 39; s priorities when he becomes president of the United States later this month must be to break this deadlock. He must engage in a dialogue with Iran and ensure that it complies with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This will only be possible if the US rejoins the JCPOA and allows Tehran to ease US sanctions.
To date, Joe Biden has indicated that he will take an approach based on “compliance for compliance”. This is to be warmly welcomed and there must be a positive and coordinated response from Britain, France and Germany (the so-called E3 countries) and our European partners in general to ensure that Iran is fully deployed internationally diplomatically.
Close cooperation with European partners is now vital as the UK's transition period comes to an end
For this to be possible, the inspection capacity of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must be strengthened, while Britain and all EU countries must intensify their dialogue with Israel and the Gulf states. The message to them must be the need for a broad de-escalation of regional tensions. Likewise, we must recognize that the United Nations has a key role to play, especially with regard to Yemen.
The E3 process is a great example of the kind of diplomatic mechanisms the UK government needs to invest in post-Brexit. It has been an important channel in keeping the JCPOA alive in the midst of the Trump administration's actions. Close cooperation with European partners is now vital as the UK's transition period comes to an end.
However, it would be unwise to believe that restoring full compliance to the JCPOA would be enough to address any concerns raised by Iran's activities. The JCPOA says nothing about Iran's ballistic missile program, which is designed to deliver nuclear weapons, or about its support for terrorist groups and militias across the Middle East. These issues need to be addressed and while the UK Government believes that a long-term perspective is needed, it is necessary to get these issues firmly on the international agenda.
The goal must be a new agreement with Iran that goes beyond limiting and controlling the country's nuclear capabilities, important as that is.
Any consideration of Iran must also focus on human rights. As long as there are arbitrarily detained nationals in Iran, "state hostage taking" must be paramount, and Britain must work closely with other countries to end this.
Likewise, given the widespread human rights violations taking place in Iran, Britain should move beyond its current approach to discreet pressure and actively consider extending Magnitsky-style sanctions against key perpetrators.
Iran is an old country with a rich culture. It is able to develop a strong and diverse economy and has the potential to be a positive member of the international community. But whether that happens depends not only on developments in Tehran, but also on the strategic, international policy decisions of the new US president. So far, Joe Biden's clues have been extremely encouraging; it is now up to us, in Britain and the EU, to work as closely as possible with the new president to ensure that our relationship with Iran changes for the better.
Wayne David is the Labor MP for Caerphilly and is shadow Secretary of State, Commonwealth and Development for the Middle East and North Africa.