Rassegna Esteri

Iran stands up against transatlantic bullying

Tehran Times – As the European trio – France, Germany, and the UK – are pushing for expanding the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Iranian experts and officials reiterate that Tehran will not only not negotiate over its defensive missile program and regional influence it will also not renegotiate the nuclear deal.

“In our view, the JCPOA negotiations are over and there are no plans for new negotiations that need to be restructured. The only thing left today is the return of all parties to their obligations under the agreement, and this is not a complicated matter,” Ali Rabiei, the Iranian government’s spokesman, said on Tuesday. 

Despite European calls to expand the nuclear deal, Iranian officials have made it clear that the defense capabilities of Iran are not negotiable at all. Moreover, the officials also ruled out any prospect of renegotiating the nuclear deal from which the Trump administration withdrew illegally more than two years ago.

The nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has been a point of contention between the United States and Iran over the past few years. U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal by claiming that it was “the worst deal ever.” He imposed sweeping economic sanctions on Iran after quitting the binding deal and called for a “better deal” with Iran that would include, inter alia, the country’s missile program and its activities in the region. 

On the other hand, Iran strongly rejected the Trump administration’s calls for new talks, saying it will not renegotiate what it has negotiated before. Meanwhile, the European countries have called for preserving the JCPOA as the only way to keep a close watch on Iran’s nuclear activities. But this seems to have changed after Joe Biden won the U.S. presidential election in November. As leading U.S. news media organizations began projecting Biden to win the election, the E3 changed its tone on Iran, openly demanding broader negotiations with Iran while keeping the JCPOA. 

Shortly after the U.S. election, the French presidency called for broader negotiation with Iran that includes Iran’s regional role and its missiles, according to press reports. A French official pointed out in a press briefing that the Iranian nuclear program has reached a dangerous stage, and that would not be the case if Iran continued to respect its obligations stipulated in the 2015 nuclear agreement. The official also said any subsequent negotiations with Tehran should expand to include the ballistic missile program, regional policy, and what he called “interference in the affairs of other countries.”

In the weeks after the U.S. election, the E3 foreign ministers also held a trilateral meeting in Germany to coordinate their positions on Iran. After the meeting, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made remarks that were indicative of a possibly new European policy toward Iran. One that seeks to achieve what Trump failed to achieve through the so-called “maximum pressure” campaign.

“A return to the previous agreement will not suffice anyway. There will have to be a kind of ‘nuclear agreement plus,’ which is also in our interest. We have clear expectations of Iran: no nuclear weapons, but also no ballistic missile program that threatens the entire region. Iran also needs to play a different role in the region,” Maas said in an interview with the German magazine, Der Spiegel. He added, “We need this agreement precisely because we distrust Iran. I have already coordinated with my French and British counterparts on this.”

Iran hit back at the chief German diplomat, saying that Europe should know its position and capacities. Iran also believes that the European trio (E3) have failed to honor their commitments under the JCPOA. And Iran is wary of any new talks with the West due to its experience reneging on the nuclear deal.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has responded to the German foreign minister’s remarks, saying Iran will not renegotiate the JCPOA.

Speaking at a regular press conference on Monday, the spokesman said, “Iran’s position on the JCPOA is firm and unchanged. JCPOA was negotiated once; this agreement was the result of Iran’s resistance, it was signed and it is included in Resolution 2231. Iran will not renegotiate what was once negotiated, nor will the binding nature of Resolution 2231 be diminished.”

“One of the parties that did not fulfill its obligations was the European parties. The European Union foreign policy chief is responsible for implementing the JCPOA, and countries like Germany have not even been able to meet their commitments,” Khatibzadeh pointed out.

Iran is unlikely to accept Europe’s demand to expand the JCPOA, according to Alireza Sheikh Attar, Iran’s former ambassador to Germany and an expert on Iran-Europe relations.

“Europe’s calls for broader negotiations with Iran are nothing new. Since the 2000s, the E3 have been pursuing the same goal. They, and the Americans in later times, have sought to bully Iran, which resulted in Iran resisting them all,” Sheikh Attar told the Tehran Times. According to the former diplomat, the Europeans are concerned about Iran getting stronger.

“The Europeans are worried about Iran getting stronger. They are not worried about Iran’s nuclear program, because the Europeans themselves know very well that Iran is not after acquiring nuclear weapons because this is not Iran’s strategy. The Europeans are worried about the strength of the Islamic Republic as an idea, not as a country with specific borders. An idea that is the legacy of the late Imam Khomeini and inspiring. The whole region of West Asia has been affected by the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. The Revolution’s influence reached Palestine, and then Syria and Iraq,” the former Iranian ambassador to Germany pointed out.

Iran has made it clear at the highest levels that the European signatories to the JCPOA have no right to demand negotiations on Tehran’s regional influence and its defensive missile program as well. During his latest meeting with the heads of the three branches of the government, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei called on the E3 to stop demanding negotiations on Iran’s missiles and its influence in the region.

“The Europeans are constantly taking stances against Iran. While they are making the most improper interferences in the region’s issues, they tell us not to interfere in the region. And while France and Britain possess destructive nuclear missiles and Germany is moving in this direction, they tell us not to possess missiles,” the Leader pointed out.

Directly addressing the Europeans, Ayatollah Khamenei added, “What business is it of yours. Correct yourself first and then make remarks.”

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