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Iranian foreign minister’s European tour and its goals

Supporters of the Iranian opposition group PMOI/MEK rally in Paris against a visit by Iranian regime Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif – August 23, 2019
Supporters of the Iranian opposition group PMOI/MEK rally in Paris against a visit by Iranian regime Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif – August 23, 2019

Analysis by PMOI/MEK


Iran, August 24, 2019–According to reports by the European Commission, the quantity of trade between the Iran and the 28 nations of the European Union in 2019 has decreased to a fourth of the same period last year.

It is noteworthy that Europe’s imports from Iran have decreased 93 percent while its exports have only decreased 53 percent.

The single biggest part of Iran’s export to Europe has always been oil and its condensates and the recent reimposition of U.S. energy sanctions has driven Iran’s oil exports to Europe to zero.

Through engaging Europe, the Iranian regime hopes to find a way to circumvent U.S. energy sanctions, even by implementing INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges), that according to Iranian officials, “is nothing more than a food-for-oil program.” Meanwhile, some faction of the ruling elite in Iran have serious doubts about counting on Europe for supporting the mullahs.

In his visits to Scandinavia and France, Iranian regime Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was attempting to loosen the noose around the neck of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As seen in each and every stop he made, supporters of the Iranian opposition group People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) held rallies in Finland, Sweden, Norway and France protesting his visit and denouncing him as a terrorist.

In a meeting with regime supporters in Sweden, while complaining about Europe’s inaction, Zarif showed once again that his regime is hoping that something comes out of INSTEX.

In a related report, Iran’s state-run television said, “The foreign minister criticized Europe’s inaction about implementing INSTEX. In a meeting with Iranian residents of Sweden, Zarif reiterated the need to solve the problems of INSTEX and said that Iran’s petrodollars need to enter this financial mechanism. The foreign minister added that, in the short-term, maybe INSTEX isn’t the remedy for our problems, but it shows the fact that the closest allies of the U.S. have created a way for circumventing [the sanctions].”

In his meeting with Sweden’s top diplomat, Zarif frequently urged his counterpart to implement INSTEX as soon as possible.

Iranian media, which extensively covered Zarif’s visit to Europe, did not mention any specifics about his counterparts’ statements and positions, merely reporting extensively that both sides discussed different mutual issues, including the region, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the Persian Gulf’s security, Yemen and Afghanistan.

On the other hand, Iranian politicians belonging to the conservative camp of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, don’t even try to hide their pessimism and disappointment.

Mohammad Ebrahim Rezaii, chair of the Nuclear Commission in the Iranian regime’s Majlis (parliament), shared his concerns about Europe’s promises to implement INSTEX. “Generally, the Europeans just play a role to advance their designated scenario,” he said. “Europe and the U.S. are managing a mutual scenario based on depriving Iran from nuclear technology.

Rezaii’s remarks were in stark contrast to Zarif’s calls for optimism. “There is no doubt that Europe will do nothing to rescue the JCPOA, because they don’t have the necessary will to do so and they don’t want to pay the price of countering the U.S. to rescue the JCPOA.”

Before Zarif started his European tour, Keyhan newspaper, known as Khamenei’s official mouthpiece, attacked the regime’s President Hassan Rouhani and Zarif for counting on INSTEX. “You should interpret Rouhani and Zarif’s rehashed statements last week as having three goals: Creating an atmosphere for nothing! Creating an atmosphere to escape responsibility about the damages of the JCPOA and their own past, and creating an atmosphere to do as they wish now and in the future behind the backs of the people.”

Interestingly, Europe has set the condition of Iran’s commitment to the JCPOA for implementing INSTEX, while the regime is scaling its obligations. Tehran’s records during the past few months have made it crystal clear this regime intends to up the norm of malign measures and such dialogue with Europe only aims to kick the can down the road.