Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (127)

Niall Collins


127. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the efforts being made at EU level to de-escalate tension between the US and Iran; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21806/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am concerned by the growing tensions between the United States and Iran which have escalated in recent months and weeks. Following US withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) last year, both Ireland and the EU conveyed our great regret at the decision to the US Government, and have maintained that view. Ireland has clearly expressed our belief that there is no credible peaceful alternative to the JCPOA, which we believe was a significant diplomatic achievement, and one which Iran was in full compliance with, as verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Middle East is a safer region with the JCPOA in operation, and would be less safe without it.

Ireland shares broader concerns expressed by the United States about some Iranian behaviour in the region, most notably in relation to Iran’s activities on ballistic missiles, and support for militant groups, especially in Syria and Yemen. However, Ireland believes that none of these concerns can be better addressed without the JCPOA in place.

I join my EU colleagues in regretting the continuing US efforts to tighten general economic sanctions on Iran, and Iran’s subsequent decision to partially suspend its operation of some commitments under the JCPOA. Ireland and the EU will continue to endeavour to ensure the effective implementation of the JCPOA and adherence to its commitments by all parties.

On 13 May, US Secretary of State Pompeo met with High Representative Mogherini in Brussels. HR/VP Mogherini urged the United States to exercise maximum restraint as tensions mount between the US and Iran and stressed the need for diplomatic dialogue. She reiterated the EU's continuing commitment to the JCPOA.

The Government and the European Union will continue to monitor tensions between the US and Iran, and where the opportunity arises with both Governments and relevant interlocutors, will encourage a return to amicable and constructive communication. This is clearly a situation of concern, but equally we should not ourselves contribute to raising the temperature. I continue to believe that neither the US nor Iran is seeking to move towards conflict.