Exclusive Interview

Non-nuclear concerns should not undermine JCPOA: German ambassador

November 29, 2017

TEHRAN – Germany will continue to make it clear that concerns about nonnuclear issues should not be used as pretext to jeopardize the Iran deal, aka the JCPOA, Germany’s ambassador to Tehran says in an exclusive interview with the Tehran Times.

Below is the full interview with Mr. Michael Klor-Berchtold:

Q: Ambassador, what is your assessment of current economic and political relations between Iran and Germany? In your view, are these relations at a favorable level? 

A: Our relations have a long tradition. In 1873, the former German and Persian empires signed a Treaty of Friendship and Navigation that provided for the establishment of permanent representations. The first German legation was opened at the court of Naser alDin Shah in 1884. Diplomatic relations between the

“In 2016, trade between Germany and Iran increased by 22 percent over the previous year to approximately 2.9 billion euros…. Iranian exports to the EU rose by a tremendous 200 percent in the first half of 2017 compared to 2016.”

Federal Republic of Germany and Iran were established in 1952. The history of the German Embassy School Tehran, which educated many successful Iranians, goes back to 1907. After the revolution, former Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher was one of the first “Western” foreign ministers to visit Tehran. 

The Vienna nuclear agreement of 14 July 2015 between the E3/EU+3 countries (Germany, France and the UK, as well as the EU, China, Russia and the U.S.) and Iran brought about a settlement of the nuclear dispute. This has opened the door to closer bilateral relations and to regular political consultations, including on regional issues. Germany is a strong supporter of the JCPOA. We are continuing our efforts to ensure that the full potential of the JCPOA is enjoyed by Iranian people and their families in their everyday lives. And we continue to make it clear that international concerns about nonnuclear issues should not be used as pretext to jeopardize the deal. They should be addressed outside the JCPOA.

Economic relations between Germany and Iran have traditionally been very close. There are estimates that some 30 percent of Iran’s industrial infrastructure was produced in Germany. Following the lifting of EU economic and financial sanctions on 16 January 2016, German business associations are optimistic about the prospects of bilateral trade continuing to grow. In 2016, trade between Germany and Iran increased by 22 percent over the previous year to approximately 2.9 billion euros. German exports to Iran were worth 2.6 billion euros while German imports from Iran were valued at 314 million euros.

“Germany is a strong supporter of the JCPOA.”

If the current trend continues, our bilateral trade will exceed three billion euros this year. In the first half of 2017, German exports to Iran were up by almost 50 percent compared to the first half of 2015 – the JCPOA was signed in July 2015. Iranian exports to the EU rose by a tremendous 200 percent in the first half of 2017 compared to 2016.

And there is some more good news: in June 2016, German companies regained access to export credit guarantees by the German Federal Government, known as Hermes guarantees. Since then, guarantees worth more than 700 million euros have been granted in various sectors. And there is more to come.

All in all, I am optimistic that our economic relations will continue at a favorable level. But we should not forget the relations between people, families and tourists, which lay the groundwork for knowing and understanding the other. And the number of German tourists has gone through the roof. Some German tour operators have sold all their trips to Iran one year in advance. Germans admire the cultural historic sites of Iran.

“I am confident that the world will be convinced of the importance of the JCPOA for stability and peace in the region and beyond.”

Q: Your country played a significant role during the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries. However, in view of approaches taken by the U.S., which run contrary to the agreement, has your country decided to assume an influential role in stopping the international agreement from being overturned?

A: Germany is now playing a significant role once again when it comes to preserving the JCPOA. The heads of state and government of France, Germany and the United Kingdom (the E3) voiced their concern about President Trump’s decision not to recertify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA to the U.S. Congress in their Declaration issued on 13 October, the very same day on which the U.S. President announced the U.S. Iran Strategy. They made it clear that the nuclear deal was the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy. The JCPOA was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2231. The International Atomic Energy Agency

has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA through its longterm verification and monitoring program. The E3 heads of state and government therefore encouraged the U.S. administration and Congress to consider the implications to the security of the U.S. and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine the JCPOA. The foreign ministers of the 28 member states of the EU followed suit in a unanimous declaration of 16 October, clearly encouraging the U.S. to maintain its commitment to the JCPOA. 

Q: In your opinion, what are the reasons for such bullying behavior by the United States?

A: As a diplomat, I firmly believe that it is always better to talk to each other instead of talking about each other. Dialogue has always been the best option.

“The number of German tourists has gone through the roof. Some German tour operators have sold all their trips to Iran one year in advance.” “Germans admire the cultural historic sites of Iran.”

Q: Don’t you think that if European powers such as Germany don’t adopt a strong position toward such behavior by the U.S., it will set a bad precedent and the status of Europe will be undermined internationally?

A: The European parties to the nuclear deal, Germany, France, the UK and the EU, adopted a very clear and strong position. The EU declared that the JCPOA is a key element of the nuclear nonproliferation global architecture and crucial for the security of the region.

Q: In view of Mr. Trump’s approach, what is your prediction for the fate of the JCPOA?

A: I am confident that the world will be convinced of the importance of the JCPOA for stability and peace in the region and beyond.

Q: What is your analysis of Iran’s economic opportunities for investment by German companies? Is your country really awaiting permission from the U.S. to enter the Iranian market?

A: The JCPOA has laid the groundwork for closer ties in the economy. We started on the right path and we are determined to continue on this path. But in the end, it is up to German companies, banks and insurers to analyze strengths, opportunities and obstacles – as they do for any other country in the world. One of the strengths is the support given by the German foreign minister and the minister for economic affairs and energy, who visited Iran together with representatives of German companies, banks and insurers. They travelled to Iran to assess the situation with their own eyes. It takes time to rebuild former ties, to follow up and to develop concrete business plans. However, we are seeing many positive and viable examples such as the opening of the biggest solar panel in Iran by a German investor. I attended the opening ceremony together with former energy minister Hamid Chitchian. We both considered this German investment to be a reason to be optimistic. We are on the right track.

SP/PA


 

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