By Mohammad Sadat Khansari
The Supreme Leader of Iran used his first speech of the Iranian New Year to criticise Western countries regarding the 2015 nuclear deal and Europe’s special financial mechanism.
Ali Khamenei told a crowd in Mashhad, northeast Iran, on March 21: “This financial channel is more like a joke. A bitter joke. Like in the past, Europeans have stabbed [us] in the back.”
He then repeated his previous statements about Europe being untrustworthy and called Western politicians “barbarians”, in spite of their “stylish appearance and the use of eau de cologne”.
He even complained that Europe has “practically left the [nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)] because they haven’t honoured their obligations to the JCPOA”. The obligations were to remove sanctions on Iran, which Europe has done, however, the effectiveness has been mitigated somewhat by the US withdrawal from the deal and reimposement of sanctions. That’s why Europe came up with the special financial mechanism, known as the INSTEX, but in order for Iran to benefit, they do have to pass anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing bills.
These statements by Khamenei came after several of President Hassan Rouhani’s accused Europe in recent weeks of not respecting its commitments to the Iran nuclear deal, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who told the Munich Security Conference that “launching INSTEX is far less than the commitments the three European countries had made to rescue the JCPOA”.
Iranian state-run news outlets reported that this was a “symbolic gesture for Europe” as the bloc “can’t influence their own companies” to stick to the nuclear deal. While Ahmad Tavakkoli, a member of the powerful Expediency Discernment Council, wrote in a letter to his fellow council members that this “derogatory” agreement is not even equivalent to oil for food and is “conditioned to Iran accepting [the Financial Action Task Force (FAFT) recommendations] swiftly.”
Iran is demanding that Europe create mechanisms that guarantee free selling of oil, free financial transactions for oil income money, and free maritime shipping, but INSTEX contains none of that, focusing instead on the sectors “most essential to the Iranian population – such as pharmaceutical, medical devices and agri-food goods”.
In addition, the European Council also expressed “grave concern” about Iran’s ballistic missile activity and urged Iran to “refrain” from such activities, especially ballistic missile launches, as they are “inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2231”.
The Council also wrote: “The Council is deeply concerned by the hostile activities that Iran has conducted on the territory of several Member States and, in this context, decided to list two individuals and one entity. The European Union will continue to demonstrate unity and solidarity in this area and urges Iran to put an immediate end to such unacceptable behaviour.”
This is similar to what the US asked of Iran last year and it’s important to note that none of these things could be deemed unreasonable.