EU rewarding Iranian aggression by seeking return to nuclear deal

EU rewarding Iranian aggression by seeking return to nuclear deal

EU rewarding Iranian aggression by seeking return to nuclear deal
A picture by Iran's Atomic Energy Organization shows the interior of the Fordo (Fordow) Uranium Conversion Facility in Qom. (File/AFP)
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The EU is redoubling its efforts and spending significant political capital to push new US President Joe Biden into immediately returning America to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran.

The bloc this month reiterated its “strong commitment” to the nuclear deal and urged the US to swiftly rejoin it. It declared in a statement: “The EU reiterates its strong commitment to and continued support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The JCPOA is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and an achievement of multilateral diplomacy, endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council through resolution 2231.” It added: “We welcome… Biden’s positive statements on the JCPOA, and look forward to working with the incoming US administration.”

The EU appears more determined than ever to revive the nuclear deal in spite of the fact that French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian last week acknowledged that Tehran is violating the deal and rapidly acquiring nuclear weapons capacity. “This has to stop because Iran and — I say this clearly — is in the process of acquiring nuclear (weapons) capacity,” he was quoted as saying.

At an underground facility, Iran’s theocratic establishment is enriching uranium to 20 percent purity, which is only a relatively short technical step away from weapons-grade level.

Unfortunately, the European leaders are sending the wrong message to Iran: That the regime’s violations and threats are paying off. The Iranian leaders have ratcheted up their threats in recent months in order to get the JCPOA’s EU3 (Germany, the UK and France) and the US back to the nuclear deal as soon as possible. Tehran has threatened that, if US sanctions are not lifted by Feb. 21, it will expel International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors.

The Iranian regime has learned that, the more it threatens to instigate instability and insecurity in the Middle East, the more the EU will double down on its efforts to save the nuclear deal.

The European leaders are sending the wrong message to Iran: That the regime’s violations and threats are paying off.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

More fundamentally, the EU wants to see the sanctions on Iran quickly lifted once the Iranian leaders rejoin the nuclear deal. But does the EU not remember how the regime spent its influx of money as a result of the nuclear deal? The billions of dollars of increased revenues were not spent on helping the Iranian people, improving their living standards or promoting peace in the region, even though it was outlined in the nuclear deal’s preamble that all signatories “anticipate that full implementation of this JCPOA will positively contribute to regional and international peace and security.” When the deal was finalized, former US President Barack Obama famously said he was “confident” that it would “meet the national security needs of the United States and our allies.” However, this was not the case. The international community witnessed a greater propensity for Houthi rocket launches at civilian targets in Saudi Arabia, the deployment of Hezbollah foot soldiers in Syria, and constant violence by Iranian-funded militias.

The EU also wants to return to the same nuclear deal that was drafted in 2015. Does the EU not remember the negative consequences of that agreement? One of the consequences was a worsening of relations with Europe’s traditional allies. The Gulf states and Israel were excluded from the negotiations with Iran and this resulted in a flawed deal that failed to recognize their rightful concerns about missile proliferation and the funding of violent proxies within and next door to their territories.

Furthermore, the deal was heavily tilted in favor of the Islamic Republic, as unprecedented concessions were granted to the Iranian regime. For example, the deal paved the way for Iran to legally enrich uranium and spin centrifuges at any level it desires after the expiration of the JCPOA. The sunset clauses, which enshrined that commitment, set a firm expiration date for the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program. The deal’s signatories also helped swiftly lift all four rounds of UN sanctions against Iran — sanctions that had taken decades to put in place. Furthermore, Iran’s military sites were exempt from inspection by the IAEA. And the West helped the Iranian regime rejoin the global financial system with full legitimacy, allowing billions of dollars to flow into the treasury of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its expanding militias across the Middle East.

By these measures alone, the EU must have realized by now that the nuclear deal with Iran, which the bloc is strongly rooting for once again, has demonstrably failed.

Finally, doesn’t the EU recall the crimes that the regime committed on its soil after the nuclear deal and before Trump pulled the US out of the JCPOA? The regime assassinated dissidents on European soil, including Ahmad Mola Nissi — a Dutch citizen of Iranian descent and a critic of the Tehran regime who was gunned down at his front door in November 2017. The Dutch security service publicly acknowledged that it had “strong indications” the Iranian government had commissioned the murder.

In a nutshell, the EU is rewarding Iran for its heightened aggression. The more the regime escalates its threats, the more the EU is increasing its efforts to revive the nuclear deal and lift sanctions.

  • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

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