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Decoding of EU’s approach towards JCPOA

Hanif Ghaffari

The joint commission of the JCPOA had recently held a meeting at ministerial level with the presence of Iran and the five remaining members of the nuclear deal. In its latest statement on the recent meeting, the European Union has affirmed its commitment regarding the following objectives in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere:

– the maintenance and promotion of wider economic and sectoral relations with Iran;

– the preservation and maintenance of effective financial channels with Iran;

– the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas condensate, petroleum products and petrochemicals;

– clear and effective support for economic operators trading with Iran, particularly small and medium sized enterprises which are the backbone of many economies; etc.

Part of this statement reads: “The participants in the JCPOA reconfirmed their commitment to the full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal.

They recalled that the JCPOA is a key element of the global non-proliferation architecture and a significant achievement of multilateral diplomacy endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council through Resolution 2231. The participants welcomed the 11th report by the International Atomic Energy Agency of 24 May confirming that Iran is abiding by its nuclear-related commitments.”

It continues: “The participants recognized that, in return for the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments, the lifting of sanctions, including the economic dividends arising from it, constitutes an essential part of the JCPOA.

They also noted that economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran have been acting in good faith based on the commitments contained in the JCPOA and endorsed at the highest level by the UN Security Council.” As we can see, the recent EU statement is a similar (and not even completed) version of the “Brussels Statement” that was issued about two months ago after Donald Trump unilaterally walked out of the nuclear deal.

European authorities emphasized that Iran should benefit from the deal’s interests in areas such as banking and oil sales. Now, while about two months has passed since the conclusion of the Brussels statement, European officials are still standing at the start of the trail.

The European Union has deliberately avoided designing a legal, economic, and executive mechanism for fulfilling its claimed goals for Iranian oil and gas sales and maintaining economic relations with our country. In a telephone call with Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that the EU package of proposals is merely about the major topics, and negotiations has yet to be continued over the details.

The main question is, given the meaningful delay of European authorities in presenting the details of the package, how can we be determined about the resumption of these negotiations with the European authorities?

The truth is, the United Europe doesn’t intend to simply provide Iran with guarantees required for the fulfillment of its obligations under the nuclear deal. Since 2003, Europe has repeatedly violated its obligations in Sa’adabad negotiations, Paris talks, and even the Vienna negotiations (which led to the signing of the JCPOA).

Attempting not to normalize the European banking relations with Iran, the absolute cooperation with the Obama and Trump governments in the JCPOA joint committees, the acceptance of Trump’s four demands regarding the change of the nuclear deal and … are among the Europeans violations of the nuclear deal.

Under such circumstances, it’s clear that Europe doesn’t intend to turn its “commitment to the JCPOA” into “objective assurances” for it fulfilment. From the outset, the united Europe hasn’t considered the JCPOA as an “independent and legal variable”. On the contrary, it considers it as a “means” and “dependent variable”.

European countries are well aware that providing a guarantee for their commitment to the nuclear deal will prevent their possible compromise with the United States. This is one of the main reasons for the European troika’s delay in providing the necessary guarantees for maintaining the nuclear deal.

Contrary to its allegation of being committed to the JCPOA, the EU continues to use the nuclear deal as a means to deal with Washington in improving the transatlantic relation. The next point is about the special emphasis of the European Union’s recent statement on August.

European countries are aware of part of the anti-Iranian sanctions are to begin in August. However, evidences suggest that the European troika doesn’t intend to settle the negotiations with Iran by that time.  In his latest remarks, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has emphasized that “We are trying to do it (economic package) before sanctions are imposed at the start of August and then the next set of sanctions in November.

For August it seems a bit short, but we are trying to do it by November.” Le Drian’s words indicate that Europe’s delay in settling negotiations with Iran is a targeted approach. The European Union, on the one hand, seeks to force the Islamic Republic of Iran to suspend sanctions, to offer more concessions in negotiations, and subsequently, to have fewer and less demands from the other side.

On the other hand, European officials are monitoring the current political situations in the United States.

The US midterm elections are to be held in November, and the European troika intends to adjust its approach when the American electoral atmosphere is determined, and Trump’s political power is re-estimated. Indeed, under such circumstances, is it wise to count on the Europeans’ commitment to the JCPOA? How can we be hopeful about the fulfilment of the nuclear deal in this atmosphere?

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