Europe’s Walkout on Iran

Sunday, 2 September, 2018 - 10:15 Issue Number [14523]

Initial statements made by Paris, London and Berlin on the need to work around a United States exit from the Iranian nuclear deal , otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, did not stand the test of time.

While French President Emmanuel Macron publicly announced a strong-toned desire for the deal with Tehran to survive Washington’s withdrawal, behind-the-curtain actions suggest a less fierce desire for saving the agreement.

A confidential memorandum signed by the French Foreign Ministry ordered French diplomats and officials to postpone any scheduled trips to Iran.

Last week, hoping to mitigate the impact of US economic sanctions and salvage an already fragile deal, the European Union agreed to offer Tehran $20.7 million to compensate for an estimated loss of $5 billion.

Falling desperately short, Europe wants to save the deal with the meager amount managed out of a $50 million budget allocated to help Iran overcome its crisis.

When drawing a comparison between great losses suffered by Iran and reimbursement offered by Europe, it is evident how long of a shot it is for Tehran’s sought out balance to be struck.

Faced with formidable US sanctions, peaking this November, Paris, London and Berlin unsuccessfully tried to provide European investors with means to remain in Iran--out of 53 companies that left Iran post the US sanctions, nine were French and eight were German.

It is also worth noting that carriers from each of these countries --British Airways, Air France and the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines-- have also announced suspending flights bound to Iran for this month.

The recent exodus of European companies from Iran may also translate as a play to appease Washington in exchange for its outspokenly belligerent political stance. But a recent remark made by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on the West still being haunted by three thorny Iran-related concerns shows a different European position emerging.

“But Iran cannot avoid discussions, negotiations on three other major subjects that worry us — the future of Iran’s nuclear commitments after 2025, the ballistic question and the fact there is a sort of ballistic proliferation on the part of Iran, and its role in wars in each of Syria and Yemen” Le Drian said.

With the European political position on rescuing the nuclear agreement having seemingly fallen apart, Iranian officials have coincidently arrived at a conclusion that the three European countries cannot effectively step in to salvage the deal.

Echoing Iranian desperation, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, addressing both government and public, directly ordered his country to ‘give up hope’ on Europeans saving the day.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, one of the deal’s chief architects, said that Europe is trying to keep the agreement by declaring positions without taking any practical measures.

In fact, neither Europe can revive a dead-end agreement with Washington, nor can Iran embrace changing European promises which chose to align with logic and acknowledged inability of abating American wind.

As the second wave of harsh sanctions on Iran goes into effect in about two months, European capitals will virtually need to face the present reality--the Iranian agreement is over.

All previous attempts were only meant to reduce the already suffering Iranian regime’s shock—Tehran, now more than ever, appears isolated after having those President Hassan Rouhani once labeled as ‘friends’ walk away from the deal.

It goes without saying that each state is looking out for its own best interest, and it does not fall within European advantage to any longer continue defending the nuclear agreement nor reassure a Tehran which already finds itself secluded without its European partners.