European demands will only complicate the situation surrounding the JCPOA

Europe’s unachievable goal

December 5, 2020 - 22:0

TEHRAN – While Iran keeps insisting on not renegotiating the 2015 nuclear deal, the Europeans not only call for reopening the deal, but also expanding it in a way that includes other thorny issues such as Iran’s missile program and its regional influence. 

These European demands will only complicate the situation around the nuclear deal with which European compliance is strongly questioned by Iran. Over the past few years, especially after the United States withdrew from the deal, the European signatories to the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have been making empty promises that they will mitigate the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran but they never made good on their commitments. Nonetheless, they continued to call on Iran to reverse its nuclear steps, which it has taken in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA and the subsequent European inaction to compensate Iran for the losses it incurred following the reimposition of the sanctions by the U.S. 

The European signatories – France, Germany, and the UK (E3) – continued to do so until early November, when they changed the tone of their remarks on Iran but this change was not in the right direction. Instead of seizing on the momentum that was generated following the projected win of Joe Biden, the E3 started to place land mines in the U.S. president-elect’s path to returning to the JCPOA by raising such sensitive issues as Iran’s missile program and its influence in the West Asia region.

As Joe Biden was projected to win the U.S. presidential election in November, the E3 rushed to demand new negotiations with Iran that would include missile and regional issues in addition to the nuclear issue. 

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 three weeks ago, the French presidency called for broader negotiation with Tehran 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.”

These remarks have drawn strong criticism from Iranian officials, including the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

During his recent meeting with the heads of the three branches of the government, Ayatollah Khamenei strongly criticized the Europeans’ position on Iran’s missiles, saying they have no right to castigate Iran while they have destructive nuclear missiles.

“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 noted.

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 seek broader 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 Iran’s ballistic missiles.

Saki, [05.12.20 21:42]
“Iran’s missile and defense capability are not negotiable at all,” Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, has recently said.

Some Iranian lawmakers have even called on the E3 and the U.S. to pay Iran billions of dollars in compensation for the damages Iran incurred following Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and the failure by Europeans to honor their commitments.

“The withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the non-fulfillment of JCPOA commitments by the Europeans have caused damage of between 150 and 200 billion dollars to our country,” Alireza Salimi, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s presiding board, has recently said.

However, Iran’s demands from the Europeans to compensate Iran or at least uphold their obligations under the JCPOA seem to have fallen on deaf ears in Europe because the Europeans are stepping up their efforts to reopen the Iran nuclear deal and replace it with another expanded one.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has explicitly pushed for such a deal in his recent interview with Der Spiegel.

“A return to the previous agreement will not suffice anyway. There will have to be a kind of ‘nuclear agreement plus,’ which is also in our interest. We have clear expectations of Iran: no nuclear weapons, but also no ballistic missile program that threatens the entire region. Iran also needs to play a different role in the region,” Maas told the German magazine, adding, “We need this agreement precisely because we distrust Iran. I have already coordinated with my French and British counterparts on this.”

But Maas didn’t say why Iran should agree to a new deal with the West while the existing one has not been implemented by the very same parties that are now calling for expanding it. Iran has long called on Europe and the U.S. to stop violating the deal and international law.

However, the Europeans continued to ignore Iran’s calls, instead of honoring their commitments. And this seems to have enraged Iran’s top diplomat, who has recently told the West to “shut up” if it is unable to “put up.”

Addressing the 6th edition of the Rome Mediterranean Dialogues 2020, Zarif said, “When they are ready to deal with their own problems of their own malign behavior in the region, their malign support for a terrorist regime, then they can start talking about other things.”

However, “as long as they’re not able to put up, they have to shut up,” he concluded.

SM/PA

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