By Mohammad Ghaderi

Europe a bundle of contradictions on JCPOA

January 30, 2018 - 9:31

Der Spiegel has recently published important news announced by diplomatic circles in Brussels. It said that Germany, France and Britain are aiming to impose new sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Diplomatic circles have told Der Spiegel that some Western powers intend to deal with Iran's alleged policy of “destabilizing the region”, as if the West hasn’t already up ended entire nations!

 Interestingly, Germany is involved in this game, apparently helping persuade its European partners (Britain and France) to go along with sanctions focused on Iran's missile program and also on the JCPOA, given Trump’s concerns about that deal. But oddly enough, European authorities have also announced that their aim of enforcing new sanctions is to maintain the JCPOA at any price. This is, obviously, bizarre.

Some angles on all of this from reports:

1. Donald Trump has given the U.S. Congress and the European Troika an opportunity to overcome what he calls "frictions in the nuclear agreement with Iran" by mid-May 2018. The European approach shows that they are kowtowing to Trump's deadline, and they do not intend to challenge Trump. In other words, the European Troika, instead of regarding the JCPOA as an authentic document, cares more about the deadline determined by Trump.

 They're seeking to maintain the JCPOA and appease Trump at the same time, even if the nuclear agreement is altered. The special insistence of the French and German authorities on stopping Iran's missile program, and the British-American alliance for changing the JCPOA, all indicate  that the three European countries want to appease Trump and maintain the JCPOA, which may be a contradiction in terms.

2. "Restraining the U.S." was a task guaranteed by the European Troika when signing the nuclear deal. But not only during Trump's presidency, but also during Obama's presidency, they have failed to honor this commitment. For example, the ministers of Germany, Britain and France have been well aware of former Secretary of State John Kerry's commitment to not extending the ISA (Iran Sanctions Act).

 European officials also knew that the U.S. government’s action banning visas for Iranian travelers is a violation of Article 29 of the JCPOA. However, at the JCPOA Joint Committee meetings, the European Troika did not take any actions to confront such violations. During Trump's presidency, the European Troika's position has been limited to "supporting the nuclear deal", "respecting the JCPOA", "support" and "respect" are general and interpretable terms that can even lead to "change of the JCPOA" or as Europeans are trying to call it, "completing the nuclear deal".  Clearly, this “completion” was not previously envisioned as it was assumed the deal was already done completely!

3. Therefore, the respect of the European authorities for the JCPOA is suspect and no one seems to be guaranteeing the permanence of the nuclear accord in the West.

European authorities claim that they may impose further sanctions on Iran for the sake of maintaining the JCPOA. The European Troika pretends that between the "maintaining the JCPOA" and the "giving Trump satisfaction", it's necessary to choose the third option which is "imposing non-nuclear sanctions" to satisfy a whimsical Trump who seems incapable of upholding agreements between countries when pressured by other countries, such as Israel and their agents in the U.S.

It should be noted though that the European Troika essentially doesn't have legitimate role as a "third player", "mediator", or beyond that and is a "neutral player" in this situation, according to which it can create a third option. Europe, like the United States, should choose between absolute commitment to the JCPOA or withdrawal from the nuclear deal entirely. Europe stands as a responsible party and must be treated in the same way.

Imposing fresh sanctions on Iran by the European Union, even if it is based on missile program excuses, is synonymous to creating obstacles to the full suspension of nuclear sanctions, especially the banking sanctions that contradicts the clauses of the JCPOA, and in particular Clauses 26, 28 and 29. In other words, the European Troika will be accused of violating the nuclear deal in the event of new sanctions against Iran (that is, sanctions that appease Trump). The violation of the nuclear deal with the aim of maintaining it is not only laughable, but totally absurd and contradictory. It would be far better for the European Union to halt its waffling and define its final approach as "absolute adherence to the nuclear accord" or "withdrawal from the nuclear agreement". It would also be better if Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs demand that the three countries to declare their definitive positions on the JCPOA.

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