Cheated by the JCPOA, Iran no longer trusts Europe and is heading towards full withdrawal

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

For more than 14 months now, Europe has offered no solution to ease the crippling US sanctions on Iran, giving the “Islamic Republic” no valid reason to hold on the JCPOA nuclear deal. The Leader of the Revolution Sayyed Ali Khamenei advised Iranian officials to trust neither the US nor Europe. From Iran’s point of view, the US is honest in revealing is animosity to Iran, showing its bad intentions and plans to corner the country. It is playing – in Iran’s view – “the bad cop role”. Europe, on the other hand “is worse, taking upon itself the good cop role, offering nice phrases, a pretence of care and concern, but with no intention of buying Iranian oil”. Iran believes today it has been cheated and gave up a high degree of uranium enrichment and the many centrifuges it possessed in 2012, in return for unprecedented sanctions. This is what is pushing Tehran towards a “gradual partial withdrawal, every few months until reaching total withdrawal and a request for the IAEA to leave the country sometime next year”. That will enable Iran to regain its full nuclear capability, irrespective of US and EU concerns, without necessarily heading towards producing nuclear bombs.

Iranian officials said that “President Vladimir Putin advised Iran to stay within the nuclear deal, against Iran’s inclination to partially withdraw from it. Putin believed Europe, by joining China and Russia, would be in a position to meet Iran’s demands and soften the heavy US unilateral sanctions. Today the Russian President is aware that Europe has little to offer except for asking for more time and further delays. Europe is in no position to exchange its commerce with the US for its Iranian trade. Whatever European leaders might like to do, they are in no position to compensate for the US sanctions on Iran”.

Iranian sources directly linked to the nuclear deal said: “European criticism of the US unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal can’t be translated into facts. We have been through similar situations for over a decade now, and we are aware that Europe is in no position to buy Iranian oil. The European INSTEX (Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges) monetary system is not designed to address oil-related transactions and facilitate the daily sale of 2.5 – 2.8 million barrels of oil per day, necessary to the Iranian economy. Is being offered to buy non-sanctionable medicine, medical equipment, food and humanitarian products, items the US itself has excluded from its sanctions. Europe is also aware that Trump is pushing Iran out of the nuclear deal in order to win some political support, notwithstanding the absence of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme. Iran is part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that allows Iran to use nuclear technology for research, medical and energy purposes. However, Trump wants to see the world gathering behind the US and against Iran like in 2012″.

“What the US seems unaware off is that in 2012, Iran was much weaker than today with fewer resources and a fragile economy. The world’s sanctions didn’t stop Iran from increasing its uranium enrichment and the number of centrifuges. It is clear to us that Iran was cheated and deprived of a large stock of its nuclear capability in exchange for harsh sanctions. Therefore, Iran has no interest in remaining in the nuclear deal. However, there is no hurry. The withdrawal will not be sudden”.

Europe is saying it has no leverage to induce European companies to deal with or work in Iran. Therefore, it is not violating the nuclear deal. Iran maintains that it is not violating the JCPOA understanding but implementing its articles 26 and 36, allowing it to partially or permanently withdraw from the deal if parties revoke it or sanctions are imposed. Moreover, the US is asking Iran to abide by the deal and avoid “playing with fire”, while imposing further sanctions on Iran’s leader and possibly its Foreign Minister.

Iran remembers recent history well, while White House advisors seem not to have learned any lessons from their colleagues in previous administrations.

Read this carefully and concentrate on the date: 

In 2012, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) declare that the Fordow and Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plants (FFEP) had reached 19.75 percent LEU uranium enrichment (today Iran is allowed to reach 3.67 per cent). EU Foreign ministers decided to halt their import of oil from Iran and removed the country from its Belgium based monetary system (SWIFT). Iran failed to convinced Saudi Arabia to avoid increasing its oil production to compensate for this loss to the market. Iran then declared that the Strait of Hormuz would be closed to navigation if prevented from exporting its oil. Iran also delivered explicit threats to any US jet violating its airspace. The local currency was sharply devaluated, losing 40 per cent (today it is 37.2) of its value.

The US administration was convinced the Iranian regime would fall within months and that demonstrations would invade the streets to topple the regime due to the heavy sanctions. Iran’s oil exports fell from 21 billion dollars a year to almost 11-12 billion dollars.

At the same time, Iran’s stockpile of uranium reached 8,271 kg (the threshold of 300 kg of uranium hexafluoride imposed on Iran today was designed to keep Iran at a distance from 1,500 kg of 3.67 percent enriched uranium that would be needed for a single nuclear weapon if the uranium were to be further enriched to 90 per cent) and it reached 12,669 centrifuges IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz facility, 2,088 at Fordow and planned to install additional 2,952 IR-2 centrifuges. 

Relatives of Iranian scientist Darioush Rezaie who was shot dead by a motorcyclist mourn at his coffin in Tehran July 24, 2011. A senior Iranian official on Sunday blamed the United States and Israel for the killing of the Iranian scientist, who the deputy interior minister said was not linked to Iran’s nuclear programme as reported by media. REUTERS/Yalda Moayeri (IRAN – Tags: POLITICS OBITUARY)

Israel then targeted and assassinated Iranian scientists; the US, UK and Israel attacked Iran electronically to disturb its nuclear programme; the entire world agreed to impose sanctions on Iran, including the UN, Russia and China. Iran declared it would soon reach 60% to 90% of enriched uranium, the percentage needed for nuclear bomb production.

Israel voiced its intention to bomb Iran that responded that Israel and all US military bases would be bombed in response. Iran’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hassan Fairouz Abadi warned that Tehran would retaliate with a “surprising punishment” and would move the battle to the heart of the US. Hezbollah Secretary General said “any battle against Iran means the entire region will be in flames”.

That was the moment President Barak Obama decided to sit around the negotiation table. Not for fear of war, but because Iran was adapting to the sanctions, supporting Syria to prevent the US regime-change war, financing (despite heavy sanctions) its army and infrastructure needs, finding ways to sell its oil, developing its nuclear programme without any international agency’s control and with the prospect of producing a nuclear bomb, even if Iran never said it aimed at a nuclear weapons programme.

Yesterday looks so much like today. However, Trump and his administration have a short memory. Iran is today far from being isolated and is much stronger than in 2012. It has the more excellent military capability, while the UN, Russia and China are on its side.

Iran has cards to play against Europe. As Iran said in private messages to European leaders, the “Islamic Republic” can unleash Afghan drug smugglers and lessen security measures to prevent them from exporting to Europe; Iran can cease its cooperation in terrorism matters and terminate its punitive and very costly measures to stop illegal immigration to Europe.

In the remaining days leading up to the 7th of July, Europe is not expected to devise a magical solution but will instead watch Iran partially withdraw from the JCPOA, until its final pull-out expected in less than a year.

President Obama, unlike Donald Trump, refused to listen to Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu who wanted to bomb Iran. If Trump did not have an election campaign to run, his warmonger consiglieri would likely have pushed him to war already. It is against European interests to find itself in the middle, when a re-elected Trump, careless about the costs of an Israeli-inspired adventure, will likely bomb Iran. It is not too late, but it is past time for Europe to steel itself and prevent disaster.

Proofread by: C.G.B.

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