President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, and has since reinstated old sanctions and imposed new ones on Tehran in the hope of crippling its economy and forcing it into falling in line.
Since then, Europe says it has strived to preserve the deal, setting up a financial mechanism called INSTEX to help Iran circumvent US sanctions. But in reality not much has been achieved. Trade with Iran has not surged via INSTEX, and Europe has not stood up to the US over its illegal sanctions and unceremonious withdrawal from the historic deal. And yet Iran is the signatory being asked to cooperate.
Three separate steps have been taken so far by Iran and the fourth is scheduled for November. Tehran wants the US sanctions to be lifted, but as pressure on the Iranian people increases with inflation skyrocketing and vital goods and medicines becoming increasingly scarce, the government is losing patience.
This past week European leaders tried to orchestrate a meeting between Trump and Rouhani at the UN General Assembly. Macron told Rouhani it was an opportunity he shouldn’t miss, but Iran’s president was candid.
So no talks on any level until all US sanctions are lifted. During and after the UN general assembly Europe’s tone became increasingly aggressive towards Tehran. The JCPOA’s European trio blamed Iran for the attacks on Saudi oil refineries and threatened to withdraw from the nuclear deal in November if Iran did not return to full compliance.