Shireen Hunter says: As long as new sanctions do not resurrect some of the old nuclear-related sanctions, the JCPOA can survive at least between Iran and Europe. Otherwise, it will become one more international agreement ignored by the more powerful sides.

Referring to the recent positions of French, British, and German governments on Iran, Bloomberg has written that the Europeans have intensified pressures on Iran for its missile program, hoping to keep the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement between Iran and the five world powers. An analyzes of the situation by Reuters following the Trump ultimatum on the JCPOA also indicates that European countries signatory to the agreement have begun talks on Iran’s ballistic missile program and its regional influence in an effort to safeguard the JCPOA.

On the other hand, Deputy for Legal and International Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, Abbas Araghchi, has stressed: “We have not had any discussions with any countries about our missile program, nor do we intend to have such discussions.” He has added: “There are those on the Continent who believe they can convince Trump to stay in the deal by agreeing with him on other non-nuclear issues. This idea is totally wrong and will certainly backfire.”

Persia Digest has conducted an interview on the future of the Iran nuclear deal with Sheerin Hunter who is a Research Professor at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington DC, and a former Academic Fellow at Carnegie Corporation.

Are recent events an indication that European resistance in support of the JCPOA against Trump’s stance is wavering?

It was very clear from the beginning that if the Trump administration were to put too much pressure on Europe on the JCPOA they would have no choice but to go along with America. Europe has too many interests that would be threatened if a serious rift occurred in their relation with the United States. I believe that Europeans by trying to engage Iran in other negotiations are aiming to save the JCPOA.

Regional issues and Iran’s missile program are not linked to the JCPOA. In this case, what does imposing EU sanctions against Iran for these two reasons (for Iran’s reluctance to negotiate these two issues) mean? Is Europe making a mistake, as Mr Araghchi has pointed out, and will it backfire?

True, regional issues and the missile program are not part of the JCPOA. But as the U.S. and some Europeans, especially the three big states – Germany, France and the U.K. – see it, they need to be addressed. They think as sanctions convinced Iran to negotiate on the nuclear issue, more pressure can force Iran to give in on these topics as well. Don’t forget the nuclear issue has always been a symptom of Iran’s troubled relations with America and Europe and not its main cause. Therefore, the JCPOA could not solve all the outstanding problems between Iran and the West. As to whether if Europe goes along with America it would suffer because of it, I believe they think the risks of antagonizing America are higher than those of running into problems with Iran.

Supposing Iran accepts to negotiate its missile program and regional issues, will this satisfy Trump to stay in the deal? Does this mean that the US can threaten Iran and the world with the JCPOA every time, to impose his own will on Iran from now on?

It is difficult to say exactly what Donald Trump wants from Iran. What is clear is that for nearly forty years America and Europe have been unhappy with Iran’s position on Israel and its revolutionary and anti-American talk. Therefore, just talking about missiles will not solve the problem. To normalize its relations with the international community Iran must give up its so-called revolutionary goals, such as liberating Palestine, defeating global imperialism etc.

Like the nuclear issue, missiles are also another symptom of the fundamental problems in Iran’s relations with the West. As to America wanting to impose its will on Iran, unfortunately this is in the nature of the international game. Those who can will try to get their own way. The Iranian leaders does not seem to understand the nature of international relations and system that are based on the equation of power among states. Iran is a weak state and thus vulnerable to pressure from a variety of sources, and not just America or Europe.

In your opinion, if Iran and Europe cannot agree on Iran’s missile program and new sanctions are imposed on Iran by Europe on the one hand, and the US leaves the JCPOA on the other, where is this multilateral agreement headed?

As long as new sanctions do not resurrect some of the old nuclear-related sanctions, the JCPOA can survive at least between Iran and Europe. Otherwise, it will become one more international agreement ignored by the more powerful sides.

If the JCPOA is destroyed, what do you predict Iran’s response, and subsequent reactions by Europe and the US will be?

The fact is that Iran does not have many options. Resuming its nuclear activities could lead to very harsh measures by the U.S., Europe and even Russia and China. Iran’s economic weakness also means that it has no ability to retaliate economically against the big powers.

Iran’s current predicament is the result of forty years of faulty policies both domestically and internationally. It is no good for Iran to argue that what Europeans are doing is unfair, wrong and illegal, since power relationships determine inter-state relations.


Shireen Hunter
ID : N-1198 Date : 2018/02/03
Persia Digest

Iran must give up revolutionary goals

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