EU too subservient to US to challenge Washington

Prof. Nader Entessar is of the opinion that the newly revealed documents of the US 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.

Following is the text of the interview with Professor and Chair of Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, University of South Alabama, Prof. Entessar:

The newly revealed documents of the US State Department show that the obstruction of Iran nuclear deal by the US government officials has been softened. According to these documents, the US has outlined a course of action in which three European countries 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 Obama-era nuclear deal alive. According to these documents, The US State Department is seeking an agreement with the European countries on this issue (improving the JCPOA) for an “uncertain” period of time. By assuming that these documents are true, can we consider them to be a turn in the Trump’s policy toward Iran nuclear deal?

I do not think the documents indicate the “softening” of the US 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 US 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.  In other words, these documents, assuming that they are genuine, tell us that the Europeans are buckling under US pressure to revisit the JCPOA and to change some of its provisions as the Trump administration had demanded.

By assuming that these documents are true, is it right to say that Trump’s pressure on Iran nuclear deal was aimed at getting advantages from Tehran and probably some European countries?

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 possible, the Iranians.  In other words, there is a consistent “method” in Trump’s “madness” towards Iran and the nuclear deal.

Prof. Nader Entessar

Reuters reported, citing a senior US official, that there was a hope to “Fix Iran Deal” by reaching an agreement on modifying some of JCPOA contents, endorsement of a supplemental agreement or referring it to the UN Security Council. Provided European countries accept the US demands; is there a possibility that nuclear talks with Iran, Russia and China will resume again?

As I have stated throughout all of my previous interviews and articles, the Europeans have no choice but to accept the US demands to “fix” the Iran nuclear deal.  Europe is politically and economically too subservient to the US 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 and thus weakening Iran’s defensive capabilities in the region.

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

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.

First published in our partner Mehr News Agency