EU’s ‘soft’ approach to Iran has failed
EU’s ‘soft’ approach to Iran has failed
The European powers have mainly pursued the same policy towards the Iranian government since 2015. This could have serious repercussions for regional and global peace and security if the EU does not quickly change its strategy.
In 2015, in order to reach a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, the European powers – France, Germany and the United Kingdom – changed their Iranian policy from imposing pressure to adopting diplomacy. The diplomatic route included the lifting of oil and gas sanctions against Iran, as well as the removal of certain Iranian individuals and entities from the sanctions list.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or nuclear deal, resulted in “the full lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions as well as multilateral and domestic sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program, including access in trade, technology, finance and energy”. ”
The EU immediately authorized transfers of funds between individuals and EU entities with Iran, authorized the resumption of banking relations between Iranian banks and EU financial institutions, and provided support funding for trade with the Islamic Republic, as well as financial aid and concessional loans to the Iranian government. .
Brussels has also authorized the import and transport of Iranian oil, petroleum products, gas and petrochemicals, and authorized investments in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors, as well as the export of gold. , precious metals and diamonds.
The EU continued this policy even though the Iranian regime was found to have violated the agreement. For example, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, revealed in its annual report a year after the nuclear deal that the Iranian government was pursuing a “clandestine” route to obtaining illicit nuclear technologies and equipment from German companies. “to what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high standard.”
The EU is still trying to revive the failed nuclear deal and continues to trade with the Islamic Republic.
Dr Majid Rafizadeh
The agency also said that “it is prudent to expect Iran to continue its intensive procurement activities in Germany using covert methods to achieve its objectives.” Even during the nuclear deal, the UN’s watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned that the Islamic Republic had violated the deal twice.
After the former Trump administration pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal, the EU did not change course. Instead, Germany, France and the UK have doubled down on their policy. The three countries have established a mechanism called the Trade Support Instrument, which was primarily created to circumvent US sanctions. As Heiko Maas, the former German foreign minister, pointed out: “We are making it clear that we have not only talked about maintaining the nuclear agreement with Iran, but now we are creating a possibility to carry out commercial transactions.
The Iranian authorities have not returned the favor to the EU. Instead, they gradually reduced their compliance with the nuclear deal to such an extent that they violated all of its terms and restrictions, according to the IAEA. Later, the Iranian government defiantly turned off several surveillance cameras installed by the agency.
Iran has also enriched a substantial amount of uranium – up to 60% purity, a few steps from the 90% purity level required to build a nuclear weapon.
The EU’s soft approach to Iran remained intact even after France, Germany and the UK warned that Tehran’s latest move “was further reducing the time Iran would set to move towards a first nuclear weapon and feeds the distrust as for the intentions of Iran”.
The Islamic Republic recently declared that it was capable of building a nuclear bomb. In a rare revelation, Kamal Kharrazi, Senior Advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Al Jazeera TV: “Within days, we were able to enrich uranium up to 60% and we can easily produce 90% enriched uranium. Iran has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb, but Iran has not decided to build one.
Despite these developments, the EU is still trying to revive the failed nuclear deal and continues to trade with the Islamic Republic. According to the Tehran Times, the value of trade between Iran and the EU reached 4.863 billion euros ($4.8 billion) in 2021, an increase of 9% compared to the previous year. Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture said Iran exported 554 million euros worth of commodities to the bloc in the first nine months of the same year, while imports were valued at €2.7 billion.
In a nutshell, the failure of EU policy towards Iran has become crystal clear as the regime is closer than ever to becoming a nuclear-weapon state. Brussels must quickly change its longstanding soft policy towards the Islamic Republic, otherwise it will endanger regional and global peace and security.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh.
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