Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Europe, Iran Baffled By US Position On Nuclear Deal

Europe loathes having to choose between Tehran and Washington, and thus it will spare no efforts to avoid the choice. It might therefore opt for a middle road, trying to please both parties by persuading Trump to retain the accord and Iran to limit missile ballistic programs and regional activities.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

 

Lobelog

 

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) “the worst deal ever” for the US. In his first State of the Union address in January, Trump called on Congress to “fix the terrible flaws” of the Iran nuclear deal. The president has threatened to withdraw from the accord if Congress and Europe fail to amend it by May 12.

Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, nothing has put Europe at loggerheads with the US like the JCPOA. The fate of the deal seems to lie in the negotiations between Europe and the US. Although European countries have pressured Washington to preserve the Iran deal, they agree with the US over Iran’s missile program and its potential role in regional conflicts, and thus, they have formed a joint working group with Washington.

Richard Nephew, the lead sanctions expert for the US team negotiating with Iran, said in an interview, “I do not think that Europe, much less Iran, will accept these conditions. I think that European officials would be pleased to have the kinds of measures agreed to by Iran, but the fact that Iran will not agree—and certainly not in this context—will mean that the Europeans will reject the attempt as prejudicial to the JCPOA.”

He also added, “I do not think that the EU will be able to meet Trump’s demands. He will either have to back down from his demands, which is possible but increasingly hard to believe, or there will be a confrontation.”

In the past three months, European states have gone to great lengths to convince the Trump administration and Congress that a stronger pact with Iran is not possible on the ruins of the existing JCPOA. To them, the deal is of high importance and its decertification would distract from focusing on Iran’s regional and missile program activities as well as its human rights issues.

In keeping the deal, Europe focuses more on its political and security implications than its economic benefits. Europeans are apprehensive that the decertification of the deal could lead to exacerbation of tensions in the region, unlimited enhancement of Iran’s nuclear program, and the credibility of multilateral agreements in the international arena.

At the same time, Europe feels threatened by Iran’s close ties with Russia and China and the possibility that, in response to Western pressure, Iran may establish firmer anti-Western allies. Europe has realized that only diplomacy and trust, not isolation, can help resolve issues with Tehran.

However, Europe also worries about damaging its extensive relations with the US. Nonetheless, Europe might be willing to accept the cost of angering Washington over the JCPOA if it means avoiding a situation in which Iran were to resume its nuclear program and the United States or Israel used military force to stop it.

Of course, Europe loathes having to choose between Tehran and Washington, and thus it will spare no efforts to avoid the choice. It might therefore opt for a middle road. Europe might try to please both parties of the deal by persuading Trump to retain the accord and Iran to limit missile ballistic programs and regional activities.

Iran’s Perspective

Iran hoped that the JCPOA would lead to the lifting of sanctions and opportunities for economic growth and normalization through foreign investments in the country’s various sectors. However, Trump’s wavering over the JCPOA certification every 90 days has scared off many international investors from Iran’s market.

According to an exclusive Crisis Group survey of more than 60 senior managers at multinational companies actively pursuing opportunities in Iran, the majority—83 percent—remain jittery about the prospect of the United States reimposing unilateral sanctions, and 79 percent have delayed plans to enter the Iranian market since the JCPOA came into force in 2016. Trump’s decertification of the nuclear deal in October, even though it had no immediate practical consequences, has adversely affected the future planning of nearly half of the companies polled.

Iran has repeatedly declared that the JCPOA is “non-negotiable.” It has also pointed out that the deal is not just between P5+1 but is rather backed by the international community and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council in Resolution 2231. Thus, decertification of the accord pits Trump against the UN and the world.

If Iran decides to withdraw from the deal, it would stand alone against the US and Europe, an unattractive scenario that would send Iran back to square one.

If the US were to withdraw from the JCPOA, Iran could choose to remain committed to its obligations with the remaining signatories of the deal, assuming that the other European states do the same. If the accord survived without the US, that would isolate Washington and open doors to Iran for the next round of cooperation with Europe.

Denis Chaibi, head of the Iranian taskforce at the EU’s external action service, has said that if the United States withdraws from a nuclear deal with Iran, the EU may reinstate former regulations to protect its companies that are trading with Iran. For instance, the EU instituted “blocking regulations” in 1996 as a countermeasure to the US and its extraterritorial economic sanctions against Cuba and Iran. EU governments argued that sanctions benefited US foreign policy interests at the expense of European sovereignty. The regulation still holds, but the EU hasn’t taken advantage of it on Iran.

Europe’s Double Game

The the European Union has a foot in both camps. For example, after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to London and Paris in January, the EU and US formed a special working group on Iran. According to Tillerson, the taskforce is responsible for addressing and correcting the flaws of the JCPOA.

However, just a few days after launch of the taskforce, France announced that it would push French companies to invest in Iran. Although it has been the loudest European critic of Iran’s regional activities and missile tests, France has also maintained strong economic ties with Iran since 1979. The plan offers special export guarantees for Iranian buyers of French goods and services in euros. The purpose of conducting financial operations in euros, and not dollars, is to minimize the effects of U.S. policies, which have discouraged financial institutions outside the US to deal with Iran.

“We put a lot of preparation into this in 2017 and we keep on working, every single day, on the conditions of our entrance into Iran,” Bpifrance’s chief executive Nicolas Dufourcq has said. “This is a completely separate flow (of money),” he added. “There is no (U.S.) dollar in this scheme, no one holding a US passport.”

The state-owned investment bank Bpifrance has lined up deals worth an estimated 1.5 billion euros.

The European stance plays a huge role in Iran’s final decision on the deal. Regardless of US withdrawal and Europe’s support of the deal, Iran is focused on the benefits from the accord. If those benefits don’t materialize, it would be meaningless for Iran to keep its end of the bargain.

Mohammad Ghaderi is the editor-in-chief of Tehran Times. Javad Heiran-Nia is a visiting fellow at the Persian Gulf Department of the Center for Middle East Studies.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and two-time failed presidential candidate, is a foreign policy hawk with neoconservative leanings who appears set to become the next senator from Utah.


Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman and longtime “superlobbyist” who has supported numerous neoconservative advocacy campaigns, has become embroiled in the special prosecutor’s investigation into the Donald Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.


Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.


Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.


Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts  rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it.  Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.


RightWeb
share