With the Iran nuclear deal train fast approaching its final stop, both European powers and Iran’s regime are doing their best to preserve the deal that most Americans as well as the Iranian people believe does not live up to expectations.
US President Donald Trump described the deal, formally known as the JCPOA, as the “worst deal ever” and has set a May 12 deadline to fix its catastrophic flaws. On the other hand, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visits the US in a last desperate effort to assist the pro-JCPOA lobbyists who naively argue that the deal “must be preserved as there are no other options”.
“It is very important for Iran to receive the benefits of the agreement”, Zarif repeated during his many interviews in the US and added that “there is no way that Iran would do a one-side implementation of it”.
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A source close to the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) told me that “our strategy is saving the JCPOA because considering the explosive situation in the country and the expensive presence in Syria, we have no chance to survive if the sanctions are re-imposed.”
Indeed, Zarif blusters and takes the carrot and stick approach playing the prisoner swap card with the US nationals currently held unjustly in Iran. But it is not President Obama who is in the White House this time around.
On the other hand, EU leaders are making a beeline to Washington one after another to try to persuade Trump to stay in the deal.
Both the French President and German Chancellor’s visits to the US means joining hands with the proponents of the JCPOA. Now, EU’s efforts will most likely be fruitless, and here is why.
The American roadmap to fix the deal is indeed straightforward:
- fix the deal’s sunset clause
- counter Tehran regime’s destructive interventions in the Middle East
- stop the missile program of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)
- stop human rights abuses in Iran
None of these demands have yet been addressed by the EU, yet its leaders persist to convince Trump to disregard realities.
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In this regard, the French President Emmanuel Macron advocates the continuation of the failed policy of appeasement saying “my point is to say don’t leave now the JCPOA as long as you don’t have a better option for nuclear and let’s complete it with ballistic missile and regional containment.”
The EU has not even succeeded in ratifying an agreement among its member-states to impose some limited sanctions on Tehran for its destabilizing regional behavior.
The efforts to save the deal without incorporating measures to change Tehran’s unacceptable behavior provide the Iranian regime with the three vital tools – land, weapons and funds – to further destabilize its Arab neighbors.
While the Iranian regime rules out any possibility of reversing its missile program, one should ask how the EU wants to persuade the regime to come to the negotiating table. The most acceptable answer should be “sanctions”.
Indeed, it is naive to save the JCPOA, which provides Tehran with sanctions relief. At the same time new sanctions on the regime is likely to persuade Iranian clerics to respect international laws and UN Security Council resolutions.
Considering the recent success of the policy of pressure toward North Korea, scrapping of the deal is not only the best option but also the most effective way to deny terrorist organizations such as the IRGC and Hezbollah vital income.
As the deal’s history teaches us, the Iranian regime refused to negotiate until economic sanctions brought the theocracy to its knees.
Hamid Bahrami is a former political prisoner from Iran. Living in Glasgow, Scotland, he is a human right and political activist and works as a freelance journalist. Bahrami has contributed to The Hill, Al Arabiya English and the Daily Caller as his work cover’s Iran’s Middle East actions and domestic social crackdown. He tweets at @HaBahram and blogs at analyzecom.