Europe stuck in Iran-US confrontation

Friday, 2018-09-07 17:12:55
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Senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, says that by bringing up a discussion of missiles and other issues, Europe is not following an appropriate path.
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NDO – The delay of European nations in an attempt to salvage the Iran nuclear deal has left the country concerned of the possible collapse of the document. Iran has criticised Europe for its ineffective efforts to offset the damage to Tehran after the US unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal signed between Iran and the P5+1 powers in 2015. Meanwhile, Tehran’s moves in preparation for all “scenarios” are increasing tensions in the US-Iran relations.

The Iran nuclear deal, officially named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is being seriously threatened, as Europe is still failing to work out effective measures to prevent the US re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, although months have gone by. Tehran expressed its dissatisfaction by stating that the lack of European efforts to save the deal would lead to “serious consequences”. Europe not only failed to persuade the US, but also asked for additional talks on issues such as missiles, which have barely been accepted by Iran. Tehran has constantly insisted that the missile development plan bears no relation to the major powers and that the missile programme is not negotiable as demanded by the US and European countries. Senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who has strong anti-Western sentiments and heads an influential council in Iran, said “Europe has announced that they won’t leave the deal. In practice, by bringing up a discussion of missiles and other issues they are not following an appropriate path.”

In fact, Europe has been stuck between the economic and security benefits brought about by the JCPOA and its necessary relations with the US. Although Europe announced an aid package of EUR18 million for Iran in compensation for the damage caused by the US’s JCPOA withdrawal as promised in the agreement, its efforts proved not to be enough to prevent moves from Washington that could result in the definite collapse of the Iran nuclear deal. Iran can hardly expect more as Federica Mogherini, high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy, once admitted that relations with the US remained a pillar in the EU’s foreign policy, and are the closest partnership and friendship that will never change. Despite acknowledging the differences between the two sides, Mogherini said bilateral relations between the US and the EU still continued to be maintained in a “brilliant” fashion.

In a move to show its “bravery”, Iran continues to apply tough policies against US pressure. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated that the nuclear deal is not the only option and that the country will continue to export crude oil in any way, regardless of US efforts to stop it through sanctions. He asserted that “oil is in the frontline of confrontation and resistance”. With sanctions to be resumed this November, the US wants to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero. Meanwhile, Iran’s deputy defense minister, Mohammad Ahadi, said that the country was planning to strengthen its ballistic missile and cruise missile capabilities, as well as purchase new-generation warplanes and submarines. These moves by Tehran aim to send a message that international sanctions cannot hold back the development of Iran’s weapon industry. This is also a way through which Iran wants to show its deterrent power.

US President Donald Trump recently left open the possibility of meeting his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting in New York. During a press briefing at the White House Oval Office, answering questions on the possibility of a direct meeting between the US and Iranian leaders later this month, President Trump emphasised: “Everything can happen. We’ll see what happens with Iran. Whether they want to talk or not, that’s up to them, not up to me.”

As planned, US President Donald Trump will preside over a UN Security Council meeting on Iran on September 26, as part of the annual meeting of world leaders in New York. With Washington currently holding the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, the upcoming meeting is supposed to be a forum for the US to step up pressure on Iran. However, with such a tough “opponent” like Iran, there will possibly be moves of “tit for tat” as previously happened in the relations between the two countries with a confrontation history.