By Payman Yazdani

Entessar: EU too subservient to U.S. to challenge Washington

March 5, 2018

TEHRAN - Prof. Nader Entessar is of the opinion that the newly revealed documents of the U.S. State Department indicate the Trump administration has had some success in bridging the gap between the publicly stated positions of the US and Europe about the fate of the JCPOA.

“The Europeans have no choice but to accept U.S. demands to “fix” the JCPOA.  Europe is politically and economically too subservient to the U.S. to challenge Washington when it comes to Iran.”

Professor Entessar, who is the Chair of Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of South Alabama, also says that the newly revealed documents of the U.S. State Department demonstrate the Trump administration has been somewhat successful  in closing the gap between the publicly stated positions of the U.S. and Europe about the fate of the JCPOA.

Following is the complete text of the interview with Professor Nader Entessar:

Q. The newly revealed documents of the U.S. State Department show that the obstruction of the Iran nuclear deal by the U.S. government officials has been softened. According to these documents, the U.S. has outlined a course of action in which three European countries including Britain, France and Germany would be “totally committed to improving” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In return, Donald Trump would extend Iran sanctions relief, keeping the Obama-era nuclear deal alive. What do you make of all this?

A. I do not think the documents indicate the "softening" of the U.S. position on the JCPOA.  On the contrary, what these documents indicate is that the Trump administration has had some success in bridging the gap between the publicly stated positions of the U.S. and Europe about the fate of the JCPOA.  In other words, the documents indicate that the Europeans have now accepted the notion of "improving" the JCPOA to appease the United States.  These documents, assuming that they are genuine, tell us that the Europeans are buckling under U.S. pressure to revisit the JCPOA and to change some of its provisions as the Trump administration demanded.

Q. Should these documents exist, is it safe to say that Trump’s pressure on the Iran nuclear deal was aimed at taking the advantage from Tehran and probably some European countries?

A. Yes.  This is what the Trump administration wanted all along.  What is ironic is that throughout this episode, it has been the Trump administration that has shown a firm and resolute position and that the parties that have changed their position are the Europeans, and possibly, the Iranians.  In other words, there is a consistent "method" in Trump's "madness" towards Iran and the nuclear deal.

Q. Reuters reported, citing a senior U.S. official, that there was a hope to “fix” the JCPOA by reaching an agreement on modifying some of its contents, endorsing a supplemental agreement, or referring it to the UN Security Council. Provided that European countries bow to the U.S. demands, is there a possibility that nuclear talks with Iran, Russia and China will resume?

A. As I have stated throughout all of my previous interviews and articles, the Europeans have no choice but to accept the U.S. demands to "fix" the Iran nuclear deal.  Europe is politically and economically too subservient to the U.S. to challenge Washington when it comes to Iran.  I also believe Iran has been talking with some key European countries, such as France and the UK, to determine the parameters of a new agreement with the so-called 5+1 countries.   I am not sure if the recent machinations will lead to a full-blown new negotiation with the affected parties, but there is no doubt that the Trump administration is working hard to get more concessions from Tehran that weaken Iran's defensive capabilities.

Q. Some believe in three possible solutions regarding the Iran deal: 1- modifying the current agreement, 2- holding talks to reach a supplemental accord, or 3- pushing a new UN Security Council Resolution in order to add new changes. In your opinion, which one of these three possibilities is the most likely outcome?

A. These three scenarios are not mutually exclusive. That is, it is possible that all three options may be pursued in tandem.  But the second option may be politically more amenable to all parties, because it will allow Iran to have a "face-saving" way out of the current impasse by claiming that Iran did not agree to modify the JCPOA while accepting new restrictions on its nuclear and non-nuclear capabilities by signing a "supplemental" deal that does what Washington wants.  This supplemental deal can then be backed by a relevant UN resolution.  Subsequently, all parties can claim a "win-win" deal while the real winner will be the Trump administration.

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