While it was never in question that the JCPOA’s Chinese and Russian parties would stand behind Iran’s claims of full compliance with the deal that are totally backed by the UN and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Union, Germany, France and Britain have a history of taking the US lead on Middle East policies.
However, when it comes to the JCPOA, the European parties to the agreement stand firmly behind the existing deal and its existing enforcement mechanisms. They also have rebuffed the speech made yesterday by “Israeli” regime leader Benjamin Netanyahu where he claimed Iran has violated the terms of the JCPOA.
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini affirmed that only the impartial IAEA rather than the “Israeli” regime can deliver proper evidence regarding Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA. Calling the IAEA “the only impartial, international organization that is in charge of monitoring Iran’s nuclear commitments”, Mogherini further stated that “the deal was put in place exactly because there was no trust between the parties, otherwise we would not have required a nuclear deal to be put in place”.
"IAEA is the only impartial international organisation in charge of monitoring Iran’s nuclear commitments. If any country has information of non-compliance of any kind should address this information to the proper legitimate and recognised mechanism" @FedericaMog #IranDeal pic.twitter.com/M0Fvv3SrgN
— European External Action Service – EEAS 🇪🇺 (@eu_eeas) April 30, 2018
When stripped of its diplomatic language, the EU’s equivalent of a foreign minister essentially stated that Netanyahu’s speech was little more than a rehashing of the rhetoric of distrust that led to the formation of the JCPOA in the first place and as a consequence, it does not change the European position on the matter.
Gerard Araud, the French Ambassador to the United States echoed Mogherini’s sentiments by saying that an atmosphere of distrust which was highlighted in Netanyahu’s speech makes the case for preserving the JCPOA and its inspection mechanisms all the more important. German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said much the same when he stated,
“It is clear that the international community had doubts that Iran was carrying out an exclusively peaceful nuclear program. It was for this reason the nuclear accord was signed in 2015, including the implementation of an unprecedented, thorough and robust surveillance system by the International Atomic Energy Agency”.
The German government’s sentiments were repeated by a UK government spokesman. Taken in totality, this simply means that the multiple business dealings of European companies with Iran, including a large deal recently signed by the French energy giant Total, are a higher priority of European leaders than appeasing “Israel’s” aggression against Iran.
In this sense, one sees a European approach to Iran that is the polar opposite of the European approach to Syria for the simple reason that while few large European firms have any business dealings in Syria, European businesses have been doing business with Iran and crucially European business leaders want to increase their business dealings with Iran, including its sizeable domestic market.
In this sense, for European leaders, money talks louder than “Israel” but for the United States which hasn’t grasped the potential of business opportunities that Iran presents, Washington’s private sector lobbies are more aloof from Iran than those in Europe.
Thus, the fate of the JCPOA will continue to hinge on whether Trump is willing to make compromises with his EU partners on a deal that he clearly wants to scrap. There are some signs of a cat and mouse game between Washington and Brussels on the related matter of US tariffs on European goods. Yesterday, the Trump White House announced an extension to exemptions on steel and aluminium tariffs for European exporters while offering the same extension to Washington’s NAFTA partners in Canada and Mexico. However, in a sign that Brussels is willing to play hardball with Trump over the issue of tariffs, a statement released from the EU criticises Trump for merely giving a one month extension to tariff exemptions rather than scrapping tariffs on EU steel and aluminium in full.
Therefore, the fate of the JCPOA is looking increasingly contingent on the EU and US reaching some sort of trade agreement that satisfies both sides. This could include the EU agreeing to make it easier for US imports to enter the European single market or otherwise, it might include the EU making voluntary cutbacks on certain exports to the US.
While this scenario demonstrates Donald Trump’s penchant to conflate bargaining tactics over trade with issues that threaten international security, it also shows that because of the schism between the EU and US on the JCPOA, “Israel” has been deprived of a platform from which to sway global opinion.
Russian and Chinese minds have long been made up and now it appears that Europe will remain consistent in its collective position in favour of the JCPOA. Likewise, while Trump appears keen to scrap the JCPOA, it is not words from the “Israeli” regime leader that will ultimately make or break the deal, but instead, it is a future EU-US trade agreement that will do so.
While it is perhaps odd that the ratio of US foodstuffs going into Europe versus the price of a Volkswagen at an American car dealership are now the things which will dictate the western world’s position on a possible war with Iran, what it does mean is that the “Israeli” regime’s deranged anti-Iranian policies are no longer guiding the trajectory of the collective western position on Iran.
The US may well scrap the JCPOA if an agreement cannot be reached, but there remains the hope that Trump’s ability to use the JCPOA to leverage America’s European partners will prevail over the incessant shrikes coming from Tel Aviv.