Britain, France, and Germany issued a joint statement on Wednesday expressing concern over Iran’s nuclear program, citing systematic violations of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which they did present to the International Atomic Energy Agency, but former vice-president of the European Parliament Alejo Vidal-Quadras says that all the statement did was repeat the UN nuclear watchdog’s own observations.

He said that the E3’s condemnation indicates that European authorities are acknowledging the IAEA’s warnings, but warned that this doesn’t mean much if the countries refuse to specify the consequences of continuing to violate the deal.

Indeed, the countries said that they “remain fully committed” to restoring the deal, which actually directly contradicts the advice of IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi in his report. In fact, he said that “it is not possible” to just return to the JCPOA as it is now because “Iran has accumulated knowledge, has accumulated centrifuges and has accumulated material”. Grossi said that JCPOA signatories should use “an agreement within an agreement” to deal with Iran’s recent advancements.

This isn’t what Iran wants, as they’ve made clear that the only outcome they would be happy with is the immediate suspension of all economic sanctions. Yet still, the E3 isn’t willing to take the needed action, even though they know that the regime’s nuclear program is a threat.

Vidal-Quadras said: “Unfortunately, it is still very likely that the response from the E3 will be to focus its efforts on convincing the US to lift economic sanctions and thus secure Iran’s commitment to re-implementing the JCPOA. What European officials should be doing, however, is developing contingency plans for when the Iranian regime’s negotiating position remains entrenched late into this month and beyond. Instead of pressuring the US to overlook “irreversible nuclear weapons-related knowledge gains” by the Iranian regime and cease exerting pressure on it, the E3 should resolve to add to that pressure through their own sanctions and diplomatic measures.”

So what are the options coming from the Vienna talks? Either the US capitulates to Iran and the mullahs get all of the deal’s economic benefits without having to abide by the rules or the pressure is kept up and the regime works to shorten its nuclear breakout period.

Vidal-Quadras said: “Of this latter issue, the E3 statement says that the regime has made it “harder for the international community to assure themselves that Iran’s activities remain exclusively peaceful.” This is an understatement, but a potentially significant statement nonetheless, provided that the policymakers behind it actually prepare a plan for what to do when it becomes impossible to deny that Iran’s nuclear weapons aspirations are still alive and fully active.”