Europeans ‘wrongly interpret’ US enforcement of Iran nuclear deal


LONDON: European leaders vowed to stand by the Iran nuclear deal on Thursday as US President Donald Trump weighs bringing back sanctions against Tehran.

Speaking after ministers from Britain, France, Germany and Iran met in Brussels, the EU’s diplomatic leader Federica Mogherini insisted that the pact had effectively deterred Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Despite the show of optimism for the 2015 deal, which lifted sanctions against Iran in return for curbs on the country’s nuclear program, the US president has threatened to follow through with a campaign promise to shred the agreement.

A Friday deadline looms for Trump to renew his support for the sanctions waiver. Top advisers have appealed to the president to adhere to the pact.

Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, said that while it was likely Trump would remain in the nuclear agreement, it was possible that Washington would pursue different avenues to squeeze Tehran.

“Ultimately the president will waive the nuclear sanctions to remain party to the core tenants of the nuclear deal but that doesn’t preclude the US from ramping up this non-nuclear pressure,” Ben Taleblu said.

He added: “The Europeans have wrongly interpreted American enforcement of the deal as an attempt to unravel it.”

The nuclear deal has empowered the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its militias in the region due to the sanctions relief, Majid Rafizadeh, a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist, told Arab News.

“This has further radicalized, militarized and destabilized the region,” he said, adding: “Iran continues to ratchet up its antagonistic policy toward other Arab nations, the US, and the West.”

While waiting for the Congress to act, Rafizadeh said, Trump administration will more likely impose additional sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program and individuals involved in human rights violations. “This would give the administration more robust platform to persuade the EU nations to fix the nuclear agreement or to abandon it.”

One major reason that EU powers desire to keep the nuclear deal is the increased trade and business deals between some EU countries and the Iranian regime, said Rafizadeh.

“Trump will more likely give the congress additional time to work on a legislation that would fix the loopholes in the deal, such as requiring Iran to allow its military sites be inspected for nuclear development, research, weaponization and proliferation,” he added.

Iran is also not adhering to the spirit of the nuclear deal due to its heightened interventionist and expansionist policies in the Arab world and due to its human rights violations domestically, he said.

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