What Is Europe's Strategy on the JCPOA?
The disputes over the "future of the nuclear deal" are still ongoing. The analysis of this conflict is not so easy, considering the remarkable relations between Washington and Europe. In other words, Western officials look at the nuclear deal not as an "independent legal variable", but as a "dependent political variable".
On the other hand, along with the talks held between Iran and the five countries of Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France, we are witnessing the formation of parallel negotiations between the White House and the European Troika. The overall nature of these parallel negotiations reflects Europe's standpoint so that the EU authorities would be more willing to continue their international cooperation with the United States (especially in the face of the JCPOA).
One of the tricks that the US Treasury Department used to directly and negatively affect international companies' trade with Iran was to increase the risk of having any kind of trade ties with Iran. Recently, European officials have repeatedly announced their "collective commitment" to maintain the nuclear deal with Iran. However, senior European officials have acknowledged that it's impossible to maintain the JCPOA without the United States of America, and despite the reintroduction of secondary sanctions by the U.S. Treasury Department against Iran. Even those with a more optimistic view believe that it's not possible to provide European companies with "definite assurance" on having risk-free relations with Iran. Well, the reason is quite clear! Considering the importance of the "private sector" in the Western countries (compared with the public sector and the state economy), many European companies prefer to carry out their economic activities in other countries (and not Iran) with the least possible economic risk. The US Treasury Department has tried to increase this economic risk for European companies by reintroducing secondary sanctions against Iran; an issue that automatically leads to less willingness of these companies to invest in Iran.
The United States has severely reduced the willingness of European companies to have trade ties with Iran, and thus prevented their investment in Iran. The withdrawal of companies such as Total from Iran reflects the ineffectiveness of EU's future guarantees in the face of such a situation. On the other hand, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has explicitly stated that EU's program to support trade relations with Iran mainly includes small and medium enterprises. This is an important issue that should not be ignored in our calculations!
A review on the European troika's undeniable performance in the post-JCPOA time well indicates that the European troika can't, and shouldn't be trusted in this critical period. Besides, European haven’t been committed to the content of the nuclear deal. It should not be forgotten that, just hours before the announcement of the United States withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the European authorities sought to change the nuclear deal and the four illegal conditions set by Trump could be included in it! Similarly, European governments have not taken a real in holding trade relations with Iran since 2015. Even in the normalization of banking relationships, European countries didn't resume their cooperation with Iran following US Treasury orders. Now at this changing period, it's not difficult to guess what the performance of European governments and companies would be.
Moreover, during the last three years, and especially since the conclusion of the JCPOA, the European troika took aggressive positons against our country, while fully supporting the United States. At the time of expansion of ISA Act (AN ACT to impose sanctions on persons making certain investments directly and significantly contributing to the enhancement of the ability of Iran to develop its petroleum resources,) and the passage of the KATSA bill (law of sanctions against revolutionary guard corps), they simply ignored the United States' clear violation of the nuclear deal. We can well remember that about a year ago, the British Foreign Office announced an illegal statement (contrary to their commitments) that Iran was a challenging place for English companies to invest. Obviously, in such a situation, there's no way that the European authorities can be trusted, especially when the European troika is the director of the play!
By: Saeed Sobhani
Source: Tehran Times