Iran: JCPOA Without the United States: Possible or Not?
By Amir Taghati
Following US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, aka JCPOA, Hassan Rouhani’s government turned to Europe to find a way for saving the deal by coming up with a European JCPOA.
To that end, the regime sent its FM ‘Javad Zarif’ to Brussels to hold talks with his German, French and British counterparts, only to turn back with tail between legs after receiving Europeans’ response and especially after EU Foreign Affairs Representative ‘Federica Mogherini’ asserted that Europe will give no assurances to the regime in this regard.
As time goes by, it becomes more and more clear that with the United States out of the deal, it would be too unlikely for the JCPOA to remain in place.
Meanwhile, regime’s current and future concern is the widespread economic sanctions the United States is going to impose on the regime, sanctions that would also target European companies that continue to have trade relations with Iran.
Inefficiency of a European JCPOA
Many big European companies have left Iran over the past couple of months, with many more being on the verge of putting an end to their economic activities in the country.
Meanwhile, German and French officials have repeatedly announced that they cannot prevent European companies from leaving Iran, as French President Emmanuel Macron once said “I’m not the president of Total!”
Also German Chancellor Angela Merkel has recently said “it’s up to the companies to decide whether they want to continue their trade relations with Iran and risk being faced with US punitive measures.” (State-run Tasnim news agency, July 9, 2018)
It’s clear that this is basically not the European governments that are supposed to have trade relations with the Iranian regime or to invest in Iran, but it is Europe’s private sector and companies that should be willing to do so.
Considering the departure of European companies from Iran and the European shipping companies cutting ties with the regime for fear of future US sanctions, there’s no such willingness.
So, a European JCPOA won’t be able to protect the regime against future US sanctions the way the regime expects it to.
Pointing to elongated talks with Europe and the fact that they’re supposed to end with the beginning of US sanctions, Rouhani-linked political analyst ‘Hassan Beheshtipoor’ expresses his skepticism while referring to EU’s recent statement as disappointing. “It’s not clear when and by which authorities the promises included in EU’s recent statement are going to be fulfilled. Besides, the details of Europe’s suggested package are unclear,” asserts Beheshtipoor. (Rahe-Dana website, July 10, 2018)
Meanwhile, head of regime Parliament’s Security Committee ‘Heshmatollah Falahatpishe’ says “the EU’s recent statement is, as Mr. Rouhani also pointed out, too disappointing. By issuing such a generalized statement, the Europeans are actually seeking to buy time so they can take advantage of the current situation.” (State-run IRNA news agency, July 10, 2018)
Also in this regard, Iranian diplomacy (irdiplomacy) website on July 10, 2018, expresses skepticism about the future of the JCPOA. Asking ‘JCPOA without the United States: possible or not?’ the website writes “Iran is seeking European’s assistance to solve the problem and keep the JCPOA alive. But it’s not clear how capable the Europeans really are to keep the deal alive and help Iran benefit from the deal’s economic advantages. If the P4+1 countries fail to stand against the United States or find a diplomatic way out of the current situation or convince the United States into taking part in multilateral talks, then there’ll definitely be difficult conditions ahead for Iran.”
While the sword of secondary sanctions is waving above European companies’ heads and European officials have repeatedly pointed out that the European governments are unable to convince their big banks and companies to stay in Iran, Iranian regime officials and media doubt the future of the JCPOA without the United States involved.