Western media has recently published reports on the new approach of European authorities over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has officially opposed to her Democrat Foreign Minister, Heiko Mass. Maas recently mentioned that Europe and the U.S. “have been drifting apart for years” and urged Europe to “assume our equal share of responsibility” in order to “form a counterweight when the U.S. crosses the line,” pull “our weight when America retreats … [and] start a new conversation.”
Among his bolder suggestions on how to do this, he came with the suggestion of an independent system of financial transactions that would protect European companies seeking to do business with Iran. In response, Merkel stated that there are many barriers to the formation of such a system, and in the meantime, U.S. and Europe’s security cooperation can’t be ignored. Many analysts believe that the U.S. and EU’s opposition over the JCPOA remains strong, although there’s no guarantee that Europe would remain committed to the nuclear deal in the future.
Accordingly, a review on the Atlantic’s recent article is worth noting. Emphasizing that Donald Trump and his advisers have a consistent record of confronting and threatening Iran, most prominently by withdrawing from the nuclear deal, the article reads that Trump expanded the threats against Iran to all those who do business with the country, declaring on Twitter they “will NOT be doing business with the United States.”
If taken literally, this would mean a new front in America’s economic battle with the Europeans, who have remained in the nuclear agreement—not to mention many other countries around the world determined to do business in Iran.
Regarding what the Atlantic and other American sources say (on the battle of the United States and Europe over the JCPOA), there are some points that should be taken into consideration.
The analysis presented by the Atlantic can be reviewed from different dimensions. First and foremost, there should be a realistic understanding of the economic conflict between the United States and Europe. At this critical period and in examining the Europe’s package of proposals, we need to make strategic, rational and determined distinctions between the two terms of “commitment” and “guarantee”.
Undoubtedly, the EU’s words on remaining “committed” to the JCPOA is of no use to Islamic Republic of Iran. In this period we’re exactly looking for the EU guaranteeing its commitments to the nuclear deal. It should not be forgotten that not only during Trump’s presidency, but also during Obama’s time, the European troika didn’t take any effective steps to lift the ban on the European bank relations with Iran.
They event hesitated to accuse the U.S. Treasury of violating paragraphs 26-29 of the JCPOA, and chose to sacrifice their legal obligations to make a compromise with the current and previous U.S. governments. Therefore, the European Union is facing a tough test, and if it doesn’t or can’t succeed in this test, there will be practically no nuclear deal. This issue should be made clear to the European authorities by our country’s diplomatic and foreign policy.
Not long ago French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was unlikely European powers would be able to put together an economic package for Iran before November. As we can see, the European officials are following a “tactical” delay in this regard. On the one hand, they’re waiting to see the results of imposing secondary sanctions on the Iranian economy (to gain more benefits from our country), and on the other hand, they intend to set their own policy based on the results of the U.S. mid-term elections.
Accordingly, if the Republicans win the mid-term elections in November, the European Union will define its policies in a way which is closer to those by Trump. However, if Democrats win mid-term elections, the United Europe will be slightly more open to this issue. As it can be seen, the EU hasn’t even defined its own independent approach to the nuclear deal yet, let alone its willingness to offer its final package on the basis of this independent approach. Moreover, European officials believe that this delay would make Iran accept a minimal package of proposals, which is not true of course!
On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that the economic and political interactions of the United States and Europe over the nuclear deal remain strong. In recent weeks, signals have been delivered from the White House to the European troika in this regard. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is negotiating with his European counterparts. Without a doubt, the more European troika is affected by the United States, the farther it would get from reaching an agreement with Iran. Thus the European official should be aware that they can’t ignore the existing realities through magnifying the current gaps between EU and the United States over the JCPOA.
However, as the Iranian officials noted, it seems that “Europe is not yet ready to pay the price (of truly defying the U.S.)” and “Iran can respond to Europe’s political will when it is accompanied by practical measures”.
We have witnessed the special resistance of Merkel and other European authorities to this “practical plan”. It should be noted that along with the negotiations of the European Union (especially the European troika) with Iran on how to maintain the nuclear deal, parallel negotiations were ongoing between the United States and the foreign ministers of the three countries of Germany, England and France. The reflection of these negotiations, which are mostly held in secret, is visible in the statements made by the senior European officials, including Merkel and Macron.
If the European leaders do not have a real intention to maintain the nuclear deal and will not pay for it, there is no reason for the Islamic Republic of Iran to remain committed to its obligations defined under the JCPOA. The issue has been repeatedly reminded by our country’s authorities to the European Union, especially the three countries of the Germany, Britain and France.
First published in our partner Tehran Times