Seyed Reza Mirtaher, speaking in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, stated that after the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and despite introducing some mechanisms such as INSTEX, no real and practical steps were taken by Europe to implement this mechanism. This led to a gradual reduction of JCPOA commitments by Iran, he said, adding: “The reduction of JCPOA obligations, including the fifth step, which prompted unrealistic reaction of the three European countries, is based on the right envisaged in the nuclear accord.”
He said Iran believed that just as the Europeans refused to fulfill their obligations and commitments within the JCPOA framework, Iran also had the right to remain loyal to the JCPOA but to reduce its obligations. In fact, the inaction of the Europeans during this period was to preserve the JCPOA shell without implementing the spirit of the JCPOA.
Europe’s Irrational Demands
Mirtaher pointing out that the European trigger dispute mechanism has been launched for resolving the dispute within the framework of Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, he added: The point that has been ignored is that Europe due to very expansive relations with and reliance on the United States, in many financial, commercial, political, and security areas, is unable to fulfill its obligations.
He said: “Despite the many promises they made to support Iran and accepting that the United States had illegally withdrawn from the JCPOA and was obstructing the process of fulfilling its obligations, instead of holding the United States responsible for the current situation, without giving a word about Iran’s rights in an extremely irrational way over the past year and a half, they have only asked Iran to remain committed to its JCPOA obligations.
Continuation of Europe’s Past Practice Unacceptable to Iran
The expert said: “Europe claims its resort to trigger mechanism is not for re-imposing the sanctions against Iran, but they want to bring a new impetus to the JCPOA and thus persuade Iran to re-enforce its obligations for the sake of the nuclear deal. But the truth is that if the Europeans intend to stick to their past stance or want to take the same course of action; this is not acceptable to Iran.
Noting that Iran views the European move a strategic mistake caused by miscalculations, the expert stressed: “If Europeans really refuse to fulfill their commitments seriously, efficiently and effectively, they should not expect Iran to do so.”
Division in EU Troika’s Stance on JCPOA
Commenting on the British Prime Minister’s statement on the need to replace the “Trump deal” and remarks by the EU Foreign Policy Commissioner that the JCPOA “has no alternative”, Mirtaher said: “The important point we are now observing is that division has emerged in the European Troika’s ranks. The position of the Troika has been in favor of keeping the JCPOA.
A distinct example is that although London’s official position has been to preserve the JCPOA so far, the new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, considering the new benefits of leaving the EU and establishing strategic, commercial and political relations with the United States, has made a significant comeback in its previous positions, now claiming that the Iran Nuclear Agreement will no longer meet the new circumstances, and has applied exactly the term “Trump deal” and has said that the Trump deal should replace the JCPOA.
In other words, in the current situation, London’s position is that the US deal should replace the Iran Nuclear Agreement. This represents a significant turnaround.
He emphasized: “Of course, this new British position, combined with the threat of imposing separate sanctions from London against Tehran will make things much more complicated than it is today, and it can be predicted that if there is no significant change in European positions, Iran too within the framework of its national interests, would not comply with their demands for unilateral implementation of the JCPOA without enjoying its benefits.
A Glance at Two Theories about Europe’s Stance on JCPOA
Mirtaher also commented on different views of Europe’s true approach to the JCPOA, saying that from the outset of the JCPOA there were two theories about the European position on the Iran Nuclear Agreement. Some were cynical and based on the principle that Europe plays the role of “good cop” alongside the US as the “bad cop”, believed that the US appeared in the role of bad cop and merely threatens Iran and that Europe was playing the role of good cop and apparently seems to claim to be backing Iran, but in effect does not do anything to ease US pressure, and is looking to buy time so that Iran would back off under intensifying US pressure; or under conditions that Trump is no more in power.
In contrast, the second view is essentially based on the principle that Europe, unlike the US, thousands of kilometers away from Iran, is truly in pursuit of its security interests because of its proximity to Iran on Iran’s missile and nuclear issues. It feels threatened and wants some kind of Iranian nuclear and missile capability to be restrained, so in this context it wants to preserve the JCPOA.
EU, US Demand: Elimination of Iran’s Capabilities
Mirtaher noted that there were two opinions from the very outset and a combination of the two seemed to be the real European position. He said: “On the one hand, the Europeans really want to preserve the JCPOA, but if we really go back to their positions, basically like the United States, they have a very negative view of the Islamic Republic of Iran and demand that Iran be deprived of all its capabilities, including nuclear and missile capabilities.”
“So it can be said that Europeans, deliberately or not even unintentionally, have practically refused to fulfill their obligations, so that over time, US policy in the form of maximum political pressure on Iran would have negative consequences in the form of very negative effects on the economy and the living condition of the people, and finally, by changing its stance on the nuclear issue it would finally accept the 12 American demands announced by Mike Pompeo in May 2018.
He emphasized: If we take a minimal look at this, at least the perception of the European position during this period is their deep inability to fulfill their obligations to Iran.
The international expert also spoke about the future of the JCPOA and Iran’s view that Europe’s implementation of the trigger dispute mechanism meant the destruction of the Iran Nuclear Agreement, saying that forecasts about the JCPOA future were difficult given that within the next 65 days many variables can affect the fate of the JCPOA.
Useless Nuclear Accord Outcome of Continuation of EU’s Current Approach
He mentioned one of the most important variables in the future policies and actions of the US towards Iran, especially in the context of the policy of maximum pressure and said: What will happen in Syria and the Persian Gulf will have a significant impact on the future of the JCPOA, but in the aftermath of bilateral interaction between Iran and Europe on the Iran Nuclear Agreement if the Europeans want to continue the current approach towards Iran without giving Tehran any concessions and ask Iran to fulfill its obligations defined in the JCPOA, certainly the accord will not succeed and Europe will sustain losses.