for Europe to Get Over The "Worst Deal Ever"
Date: July 20, 2019
The Gatestone Institute
With tensions rising in the Gulf by the day as a result of Iran's
increasingly provocative conduct, the refusal of the major European powers to
back the Trump administration's determination to confront Iran is looking
In the past few months Iran has been blamed for a series of attacks on oil
tankers operating in the Gulf, and forced a British Royal Navy warship to
intervene when a number of fast patrol boats operated by the naval division of
the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) attempted to harass a British-owned
tanker sailing through the Strait of Hormuz, the main shipping route into the
Additionally, US military officials at Central Command (CentCom) are
currently investigating claims that Iran was behind the mysterious disappearance
of the oil tanker Riah while sailing in Iranian waters at the weekend.
Also, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have been blamed for carrying out a
number of attacks against targets in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, including a
missile attack on a Saudi civilian airport and a drone attack on a key Saudi
Iran's most audacious act so far has been to shoot down an American naval
drone conducting a reconnaissance mission in the Strait of Hormuz last month.
The strike came within hours of provoking a military response from the Trump
Meanwhile, as all this has been going on, the ayatollahs have announced
that they have resumed work on enriching uranium, a blatant breach of the
controversial nuclear accord Tehran signed with the world's leading powers in
Yet, while Iran shows no sign of scaling down its aggressive stance
towards the US and its allies in the region, Europe continues to cling to the
wreckage of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to give the nuclear
deal its proper name, in the misguided belief that the deal remains the best
means of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Europe's insistence on adopting a different approach to the White House in
its dealings with Iran dates back to US President Donald Trump's original
decision last year to withdraw from the JCPOA, after arguing it was the
"worst deal ever."
That, however, is not a viewpoint supported by the European signatories to
the deal -- Britain, France and Germany. They still wrongly cling to the
illusion that the agreement is a triumph of diplomacy, and has severely limited
Iran's ability to pursue its ambition of becoming a nuclear-armed power. Under
the JCPOA deal, upon
its sunset, a mere ten years away, in 2030, "Iran will be permitted to
build an industrial-size nuclear industry" with the ability to build and
potentially deliver as many nuclear weapons as it liked.
To this end the Europeans have actively sought to undermine the Trump
administration's new sanctions regime against Tehran by trying to find ways to
continue trading with Iran. The Europeans have even come up with their own
trading framework -- the so-called Special
Purpose Vehicle -- which is supposed to enable European companies to
continue trading with Iran without attracting punitive measures from the US.
In fact the measure has become an exercise in futility, as major European
business conglomerates such as Airbus have shown that they are far more
interested in protecting their lucrative business ties with the US than dealing
with an economic basket case like Iran.
But not even this setback has deterred the Europeans from pursuing their
policy of appeasement towards the ayatollahs. The determination of the Europeans
to stick with the nuclear deal at all costs was very much in evidence earlier
this week during a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels at
which they came up with the decidedly bogus notion that Iran's breaches of the
2015 nuclear deal were not significant and therefore did not require the
Europeans to withdraw from the JCPOA.
"Technically all the steps that have been taken, and that we regret
have been taken, are reversible," Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign
policy chief, told EU
As none of the signatories to the deal considered the breaches to be
significant, they were not prepared to trigger the dispute mechanism which could
lead to further sanctions.
"We invite Iran to reverse the steps and go back to full
compliance," were her final words on the matter.
Europe's insistence on sticking with the nuclear deal, and its refusal to
support Washington's attempts to provide naval protection for international
shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, could ultimately prove self-defeating.
Europe is far more dependent on energy supplies from the Gulf than the US,
and any further attempts by Iran to disrupt oil and gas supplies from the Gulf
would have catastrophic consequences for Europe's economy.
Con Coughlin is the Telegraph's
Defence Editor and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute. He is
the author of "Khomeini's Ghost".
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