In May, U.S. President announced that the United States was exiting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. He explained, or rather gave an extensive list of reasons, why he did not want to remain in the agreement.
He spoke about the Iranian regime’s corruption, support of terrorism and proxy groups in the region, its plundering of the nation’s resources, its involvement in conflicts in the region especially in Syria and Yemen, its complete disregard of human rights, its extreme suppression of the Iranian people, and so on. Perhaps the most pertinent reason is that the goal of the deal is not being met. He explained: “If I allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Everyone would want their weapons ready by the time Iran had theirs.”
Despite the points listed above, European officials are trying their best to continue trade relations with Iran in defiance of the sanctions that the U.S. administration reimposed. High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini even urged New Zealand, during her trip there a few days ago, to defy the U.S. sanctions.
Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa for the British Foreign Office Alistair Burt also said that the United Kingdom is also defying the sanctions. More officials across Europe say they are doing the same.
They talk about how the EU must “honour its signature” but there is no signature to honour and the EU was not even involved in the negotiations of the deal. The negotiating parties had no legal existence and there were no legal mechanisms to enforce it. The nuclear deal is not a treaty that has been signed by the EU members and nothing has been ratified by the Council of Ministers or the respective parliaments.
There are several different English and Persian language versions (of the JCPOA) floating around, so how can such a deal even be enforced when the wording differs?
By leaving the nuclear deal, the U.S. President put an end to sanctions relief. Nothing more.
The EU is trying to preserve trade relations with Iran. But for what? Many multinationals have already pulled out of trade with Iran because the choice comes down to Iran or the United States. Not many would decide to choose trade with Iran over trade with one of the biggest powers in the world.
The worst of this whole situation is that the EU is scrambling to appease the clerical regime in Iran but failing to look at the whole picture. Not only is the EU completely ignoring the crimes and belligerence of the Iranian regime, but it is also putting trade relations before the lives of its own citizens that are being held hostage in Iran. Why are EU officials not demanding that their citizens be released with immediate effect?
Have the EU officials not listened to or understood the U.S. President’s long list of reasons for leaving the nuclear deal? Or do they just not care? The European Union claims to promote human rights worldwide. It should practice what it preaches sooner rather than later.
Mohammad Sadat Khansari is a researcher analyst and consultant, specializing in Human Rights, political and social affairs. He has expertise in Iran and the Middles East affairs.