Impeccable Iranian diplomacy made only one mistake – believed the EU's exhortations that it is ready to lend a helping hand to the Islamic Republic in order to keep the nuclear agreement intact after the US withdrawal in May of last year.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei several times warned Iran’s officials not to waste time waiting for European countries, which have offered Iran their support despite the US sanctions: “Do not trust them. If you want to agree on anything, make sure there are practical guarantees in place. Otherwise, they will do what the US did to us.”
There is nothing the Iranian diplomacy should be blamed for. Tehran had no choice but to trust the EU. Iran has patiently waited for economic improvements within a year since the US withdrawal.
Meanwhile, as soon as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last week warned that Tehran could resume enrichment of nuclear fuel if the Europeans wouldn’t exercise their obligations as well, the latter began to call for “a period of calm so that everyone understands what the other side is thinking” (as said by Great Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt).
Now the Europeans are talking about increasing tension, which was not planned or meant: “We are very worried about a conflict, about the risk of a conflict ... of an escalation that is unintended,” Mr. Hunt has said recently, according to Reuters.
Has the escalation been so unintended?
The whole world watched how the French President Macron stated, following the US withdrawal from JCPOA, that his country will not get involved in a trade war with the United States over Iran.
The world also watched how the EU’s commitment to implementing the nuclear deal was accurately shifted on to the shoulders of European businesses investing in Iran, which, in turn (and quite naturally), decided to halt their activities in the Islamic Republic fearing the US punitive measures.
President Macron: “We're not going to impose on French businesses to stay in Iran. The President of the French Republic is not the CEO of Total.”
If signatories of JCPOA absolve themselves of responsibility and place it on a business that will, for certain, have to leave Iran, then how can anybody talk about support?
Ultimately, in late January, after months of delay the EU announced the launch of a special trade mechanism (INSTEX) designed to facilitate trade with Iran.
However, as of now, the mechanism is far from being practically operational or beneficial to Iran.
So it turns out that there was nothing behind declarations of commitment to the nuclear agreement.
Insincere European position in the whole story has crumbled under the US pressure, and is largely at the root of today’s dangerous developments around Iran.
To sum it all up, there is a simple question: is JCPOA really of strategic importance to EU?
If so, there’s still a chance for the EU to stop the looming disaster.
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