European duplicity

November 28, 2020 - 12:49

TEHRAN – European parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – France, Germany, and the UK - which have been claiming that they are “tirelessly” trying to preserve the nuclear deal, made new demands of Iran that will only complicate the situation around the nuclear deal and put it in danger rather than saving it.

Over the past two and a half years, the European signatories to the nuclear deal – commonly known as the E3 – have issued countless statements alleging that they had made tremendous efforts to keep the nuclear deal alive following Donald Trump’s withdrawal from it on May 8, 2018.

But these statements have now proved dishonest. Over the past few years, they kept saying all the time that they are committed to preserving the nuclear deal and see no substitute for it.

“We have worked tirelessly to preserve the nuclear agreement and remain committed to do so,” E3 foreign ministers said in a joint statement on September 20, a day after the United States unilaterally initiated the snapback mechanism which allows a participant to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to seek the re-imposition of the multilateral sanctions against Iran lifted in 2015 in accordance with resolution 2231, adopted by the UN Security Council.

Earlier in August, the U.S. called on the UN Security Council to snap back all UN sanctions on Iran by submitting a “notification” to the 15-member UN body. The U.S. request was rejected by almost all Security Council members, including Washington European allies, which said that the U.S. was no longer a participant to the JCPOA following Trump’s withdrawal from the deal on May 8, 2018, that its notification was incapable of having legal effect.

“France, Germany and the United Kingdom (“the E3”) note that the US ceased to be a participant to the JCPOA following their withdrawal from the deal on 8 May, 2018.  Our position regarding the effectiveness of the US notification pursuant to resolution 2231 has consequently been very clearly expressed to the Presidency and all UNSC members. We cannot, therefore, support this action which is incompatible with our current efforts to support the JCPOA,” E3 foreign ministers said in a joint statement in August.

The E3 said in the same statement that they “remain committed to the JCPOA despite the significant challenges caused by U.S. withdrawal,” a position they expressed in many other statements, including in a June statement in which they reiterated that they “remain committed to the JCPOA and, in order to preserve it, urge Iran to reverse all measures inconsistent with the agreement and return to full compliance without delay.”  They added, “We reaffirm our readiness to engage substantively with Iran.”

But recent press reports projecting Democratic candidate Joe Biden to win the November 3rd U.S. presidential election showed that the Europeans are not only not ready to engage substantively with Iran, but they are also not in a rush to push for a swift U.S. return to Iran nuclear deal.

In a complete turnabout, European diplomats told The Wall Street Journal that they don’t want to rush a new U.S. president to re-enter the JCPOA.

Citing senior European diplomats, the American publication said, “European powers are looking to the incoming Biden administration to swiftly reduce nuclear tensions with Tehran but won’t press Washington to re-enter the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran quickly.”

According to these diplomats, the E3 believe that a full return to the nuclear deal might not be achievable or even desirable before Iran’s presidential elections in June.

Laurence Norman, the reporter who prepared the report for The Wall Street Journal, said in a tweet that some European diplomats even support U.S. sanctions on Iran because they think that these sanctions can be used as leverage to expand the JCPOA.

“Some European diplomats believe U.S. sanctions & other leverage can be better deployed over time to move Iran – and their allies -- towards expanded deal. Others worry it may mean never reaching a full deal. But everyone agrees, Iran Deal remains reference point for diplomacy,” tweeted Norman.

He added, “Detailed Iran talks with Joe Biden team not happened yet, say European diplomats. No one's under any illusion that Europeans won’t ultimately follow Biden’s lead on all this. But it's not May 2018. Europeans won’t jumping up and down to have Biden turn back clock.”

The Europeans have further complicated the situation around the nuclear accord by demanding new concessions from Iran concerning other issues such as Iran’s ballistic missile program and its regional influence that were not included in the JCPOA.

The E3 have long called for new negotiations over Iran’s missiles and its regional influence but they have never been able to extract concessions from Iran in the missile and regional issues. However, they seem to be seeing that the time is ripe now for new, broader negotiations with Iran that would include the missile program and regional activities.

The E3 foreign ministers recently held a meeting in Germany to discuss issues related to Iran, including the missile program. The meeting came after the French presidency openly called for negotiations on Iran’s missile program and its regional activities.

Nearly two weeks ago, the French presidency called for broader negotiation with Iran that includes Iran’s regional role and its missiles, according to an Asharq Al-Aawsat report. According to the report, a French official pointed out in a press briefing that the Iranian nuclear program has reached a dangerous stage, and that would not be the case if Iran continued to respect its obligations stipulated in the 2015 nuclear agreement. The official also said any subsequent negotiations with Tehran should expand to include the ballistic missile program, regional policy, and what he called “interference in the affairs of other countries.”

The European calls for missile negotiations have drawn strong reactions from Iranian officials, including the Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei. During his latest meeting with the heads of the three branches of the government, the Leader took a jab at the European countries that are party to the 2015 nuclear deal –France, Germany, and the UK-, urging the Europeans to stop demanding negotiations on Iran’s ballistic missiles and its influence in the region.

“The Europeans are constantly taking stances against Iran. While they are making the most improper interferences in the region’s issues, they tell us not to interfere in the region. And while France and Britain possess destructive nuclear missiles and Germany is moving in this direction, they tell us not to possess missiles,” the Leader pointed out.

Directly addressing the Europeans, Ayatollah Khamenei added, “What business is it of yours. Correct yourself first and then make remarks.”
Other Iranian officials, including senior lawmakers, have echoed the same remarks, saying that the E3 should not demand negotiations on the missile program, especially after they failed to honor their commitments under the JCPOA, the very same deal they now try to expand to include other issues such as the ballistic missiles and regional activities of Iran.

“Iran’s missile and defense capability are not negotiable at all,” Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, a member of the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said last week.
Sohrab Gilani, another Iranian lawmaker, also ruled out prospects of missile negotiations.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has fulfilled its obligations under the JCPOA, while the Europeans and the Americans did not fulfill their obligations, so no new negotiations are going to take place. Rather, the Westerners must implement their obligations,” Gilani told the Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency (ICANA).

Gilani even warned the Iranian Foreign Ministry against talking with the U.S., saying the ministry is not authorized to hold negotiations over the JCPOA.
 
In a latest Iranian criticism of Europe's duplicity and double standards, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged the European Union on Friday evening to condemn the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
 
"Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice—with serious indications of Israeli role—shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators,” Zarif tweeted.

“Iran calls on international community—and especially EU—to end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror," Zarif asserted.

SM/PA

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