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Iran’s relations with Europe: A silver lining on the horizon or fata morgana?

INSTEX
INSTEX

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

 

May 19, 2019 - In a meeting with regime officials on May 14, Iranian regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei complained about Europe’s treatment of the Islamic Republic.

“We did not have any problems and difficulties with the Europeans. However, they did not respect any of their obligations and [still] do not respect [them], and at the same time claim that they are committed to the JCPOA,” he said.

 Khamenei then referred to Europe’s approach, especially over the past year.

“To change things, don’t look outside the country. Others will not help us. They will damage [us]. Foreigners will damage us. Look at Europe,” he advised his pundits.

Nevertheless, despite Khamenei’s advice, many regime officials are still looking to Europe for support and help.

One week after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s 60-day ultimatum for Europe to compensate the United States’ sanctions or Iran leaving the JCPOA, Iran’s ambassador to the United Kingdom denied that there has been an ultimatum by Iran. The European trio that signed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal–known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - categorically rejected any ultimatum by Tehran and asked the country to respect the nuclear deal,

“Tehran hasn’t set an ultimatum for Europe, but rather asked Europe to live up to its obligations in the JCPOA,” the mullahs’ envoy in London Hamid Baeidinejad said in an interview with Sky News.

“We hope that after a year of patience and restraint by Iran, through diplomatic means the Europeans are able to pave the path for Iranian oil export and foreign currency income. European countries need to take risks to keep the JCPOA alive,” he added.

Amir Abolfathi, an Iranian political pundit close to the regime, says Iran’s expectations from Europe are beyond food and medicine.

“The reason why INSTEX (a financial mechanism set up by Europe to supposedly bypass U.S. sanctions against the mullahs’ regime) hasn’t been implemented until now, is that Iran doesn’t want it to only include food, medicine, and medical equipment. Tehran wants INSTEX to also include oil, bank transactions, and other items and investments,” he said in an interview with Entekhab website.

“It seems that if Iran accepted this issue that its exchanges with Europe will only include medicament, food and medical equipment, INSTEX would have been made operational a long time ago,” he said.

“In Brussels, [US secretary of state, Mike] Pompeo said any exchanges between Europe and Iran other than food, medicine, and medical equipment will be punished,” he added.

Last Wednesday, the Iranian Fararu website, close to Rouhani’s camp, published an article titled “Europe putting off [Iran]” and expressed Iranian officials’ annoyance about Europe’s rejection of Iranian demands.

“Europeans believe that continued oil exports are one of the major Iranian demands that were guaranteed by the JCPOA. Nevertheless, currently, they say India and China are responsible for buying Iran’s oil and not Europe because Europe isn’t currently a buyer of Iranian oil.”

While Khamenei preaches about not looking to Europe to change things, former Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharazi traveled to Paris to beg Europe to buy Iran’s oil and counter U.S. sanctions.

However, his travel bore no fruit and he subsequently said, “Some European companies can buy Iranian oil but they don’t do that out of political considerations.”

The truth is that even Europe, like the U.S., wants the mullahs’ regime to decrease its ballistic missile capabilities, end its support for terrorist groups and join the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

One of Europe’s conditions for implementing INSTEX is that Iran must join the FATF.

Jalal Sadatian, Iran’s former ambassador to the UK and a former member of the regime’s Majlis (parliament) also expressed concerns over Europe’s Iran policy.

“I believe the European trio of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, along with America’s endeavors, are focusing on maintaining pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran. That’s because the Green Continent is also very much intent on decreasing Iran’s missile capabilities and regional influence,” he added.

In addition, Europe is currently covering its oil needs from other countries and buying oil from Iran will just draw the United States’ ire.

According to several sources, before the U.S. left the JCPOA, Europe’s trade with Iran amounted to $20 billion a year, while it had a staggering $400 billion trade with the U.S.

There is every economic disincentive for Europe to ignore Iran’s calls to facilitate its oil exports and avoid U.S. sanctions.

Mashreq newspaper, close to Rouhani’s camp, wrote last year: “In 2016, countries in the Green Continent imported €246 billion worth of goods from the U.S., while in the same period of time, these countries imported only €5.5 billion from Iran. This means that Europe is 45 times more reliant on imported goods from the U.S. in comparison to its imports from Iran.”

That’s why Europe is putting off the Iranian regime every time it tries to pressure Europe into tangible concessions.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Iran about leaving the nuclear deal.

“Iran leaving the JCPOA has no benefits for it,” he said. According to Putin, if Iran leaves the JCPOA, it will be blamed for the deal’s disintegration.

“In my talks with the Iranian side, I have repeatedly said that in my opinion, Iran’s high interests lie in remaining in the deal regardless of any development. The moment it reacts to the U.S. leaving the JCPOA and announces its leaves, the next day everybody will forget that the U.S. is the initiator of the JCPOA’s disintegration and Iran will be blamed,” Putin added.

It appears that as matters currently stand, Iran’s hopes in relief through its relations with Europe are more a fata morgana than a silver lining on the horizon.

 

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