Pompeo vows to annihilate all of Iran’s JCPOA benefits: ex-French envoy

TEHRAN, Jun. 27 (MNA) – The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has vowed to annihilate all the benefits that Iran could draw from the JCPOA, says a former French ambassador to Tehran.

“This is why, after the sanctions on practically all economic activities, he has pushed for sanctions on Iranian exports of uranium and heavy water authorized by the JCPOA, as well as on all the ongoing nuclear cooperation between Iran and the remaining participants, even if they were clearly useful for limiting different risks of proliferation,” Francois Nicoullaud says in an interview with the Tehran Times/ Mehr News Agency.

“And now he is trying to restore the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations and lifted in 2015 by the Security Council in the wake of the conclusion of the JCPOA,” Nicoullaud adds.

Following is the text of the interview:

As you know, foreign ministers of Germany, France, and the UK said after meeting in Berlin that Iran’s nuclear program, its ballistic missile tests, and “regional activities” remain a serious concern for Europe. The view is similar to the US' on Iran. So, why is Europe following the US in regard to Iran?
First, because most Europeans sincerely believe that these three subjects are indeed sensitive and pose a threat, not only to the US interests but also to their own interests and security. Are they right? Are they wrong? This is a matter of debate. But we have to also keep in mind that, for about eighty years the Europeans have seen their fate as tightly intertwined with the fate of the US One must always remember that, after World War II, Europe gained its prosperity and its unity thanks to the US security umbrella. This is why the Europeans are so nervous today when Donald Trump criticizes NATO, withdraws troops from Germany or starts a trade war against European products.

“If Russia, China, the UK, and France are ready to reject the inclusion of the item (arms embargo) in the (UN Security) Council's agenda on the ground that the country asking for the re-imposition of UN sanctions is no more a JCPOA participant, they should have no major difficulty in finding five other members to support such a move,” former French ambassador to Tehran Francois Nicoullaud says.

And when looking to the future, they certainly don't hope for a weak and derelict America, they want exactly the opposite! Hence the difficulty to introduce a rift between Europe and the US, the difficulty to convince the Europeans that they could or should distance themselves from Washington. Of course, if there is today a nascent rift, the blame can be put entirely on Donald Trump, but the Europeans tend to react by keeping as close as possible to the Americans, like the boxer who keeps close bodily contact with his adversary to escape his hardest blows.

UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which enshrined the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran, envisages easing the arms embargo on Iran starting this October. But earlier this month, the US proposed a draft UN Security Council resolution to “indefinitely” extend the arms embargo against Iran. What are the motives that the United States opposes the easing of sanctions against Iran?

The answer is very simple. Once and for all, Mike Pompeo has vowed to annihilate all the benefits that Iran could draw from the JCPOA. This is why, after the sanctions on practically all economic activities, he has pushed for sanctions on Iranian exports of uranium and heavy water authorized by the JCPOA, as well as on all the ongoing nuclear cooperation between Iran and the remaining participants, even if they were clearly useful for limiting different risks of proliferation. And now he is trying to restore the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations and lifted in 2015 by the Security Council in the wake of the conclusion of the JCPOA.

Britain, France, and Germany say they will not back the US efforts to unilaterally trigger the re-imposition of a UN arms embargo on Iran. How would they be able to do this?

Technically, this should be feasible. As you know, the re-imposition of the UN arms embargo against Iran has to go before the UN Security Council in the form of a resolution. This means that the item has to be included in the Security Council's agenda. The agenda has to be adopted by the Security Council before any vote or discussion, and this adoption requires a majority of nine members out of fifteen, with no possibility of veto by a permanent member as it is a simple procedural matter. If Russia, China, the UK, and France are ready to reject the inclusion of the item in the Council's agenda on the ground that the country asking for the re-imposition of UN sanctions is no more a JCPOA participant, they should have no major difficulty in finding five other members to support such a move.

The three European countries have also repeatedly underlined their commitment to the 2015 deal. However, they just talk and have not made enough efforts to save this deal. This has in turn persuaded Iran that the JCPOA does not serve its interests. How is it possible to save this endangered deal?

It is true that the JCPOA is in a very weak position, mainly because of the incapacity of the remaining participants -- China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. -- to provide Iran with the benefits it rightfully expected from this agreement. For Iran's partners, it is not a matter of political will. Frankly, I believe that the governments are eager to help, but the business community simply does not want to take the risk of being sanctioned by the US and governments have no means to compel businessmen to act as the risk is very real indeed. But whatever the difficulties of the situation, there is at least a positive point: Iran's partners have no intention of leaving the JCPOA. So the fate of the JCPOA is entirely in Iran's hands.

“The Europeans tend to react by keeping as close as possible to the Americans, like the boxer who keeps close bodily contact with his adversary to escape his hardest blows.”

True, the choice is not easy. What is better for Iran? Remaining in an agreement which offers no benefit, at least in the foreseeable future, or leaving the agreement with the risk of estrangement from five countries which could be helpful later, in better circumstances? There is perhaps a third way, which would be to leave the JCPOA but immediately decide that, until further notice, Iran would keep on abiding by all its provisions on a purely voluntary, unilateral basis. This third solution offers some room of maneuver. But one has to keep in mind that if Iran, one way or another, leaves the JCPOA, it will lose the last benefits of the agreement, such as the end of the arms embargo if the decision takes place before October, or will take the risk of the re-imposition of this embargo if the decision takes place later.

First published in Tehran Times

Interview by Hamid Bayati

News Code 160223

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