Tehran tries to unite with the EU against the US.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is touring Europe, arrived in Austria on July 1, becoming chairman of the EU Council on July 1. In the midst of a deepening split between the US and its allies, the Iranian leader hastens to enlist the support of that part of the Western community that opposes the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Tehran and the imposition of new sanctions against it. The support of Europeans is crucial for the Iranian reformers led by Hasan Roukhani, who face internal protests due to the deteriorating economic situation and the pressure of opponents of normalizing relations with the West.
Hassan Roukhani’s European tour, which began with a two-day visit to Switzerland, is taking place in the context of the escalating escalation of the Iranian crisis. After US President Donald Trump announced on May 8 unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCAP) – an agreement on limiting Tehran’s nuclear program, signed in summer 2015 in Vienna, the Trump administration is doing its best to include the maximum number of Iranian deterrents states.
Already after the Iranian delegation landed in Bern, the director of the US Department of State’s Political Planning Department, Brian Hook, confirmed Washington’s determination to reduce “to zero” Iran’s oil revenues by imposing sanctions that will be effective from November 4th. The representative of the department reported on consultations with other states, which Washington calls for to follow its example and refuse to import Iranian oil. According to him, if the cooperation with Tehran continues, American sanctions can be imposed against these states.
In this situation, being forced to react quickly to new threats from Washington, President Rouhani tried to demonstrate the ability to hold a blow and called on the Europeans to side with Tehran. The main idea of his speech at a press conference with Swiss President Alain Byrse was that the announced oil embargo is an unrealizable idea, given that even the US allies do not support it. “In my opinion, the words of some American officials about the desire to reduce Iran’s exports to zero are empty chatter,” Hasan Rouhani said.
“Iran will continue to respect the nuclear agreement with the world powers while its interests within the framework of the JCAP will continue,” the Iranian president added. Alain Birce agreed with his Iranian colleague, recognizing that “the US withdrawal from the JCAP jeopardizes the progress achieved” in the settlement of the Iranian nuclear crisis. In addition to the political declarations of the commitment of the UWB, the result of the Bern talks was the signing of an agreement on cooperation in the field of land passenger and freight transport, as well as two protocols of intentions.
Demonstration of European support for Tehran was also yesterday’s visit of President Roukhani to Austria, which had the status of state visit. Did not prevent him and erupted the day before the scandal. Last Saturday, French law enforcement agencies detained three suspects in the preparation of an attack against representatives of the Iranian opposition in the Paris suburb of Villepint, which was planned for June 30. According to preliminary data, the organizer of the failed act of terrorism was an employee of the Iranian Embassy in Vienna, who worked in the Austrian capital since 2014. In this connection, the day before Hassan Roukhani’s visit to Vienna, the Austrian Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador, who was told about the need to deprive the diplomat of immunity from the 48-hour period on the basis of the issued arrest warrant.
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However, at the same time, the Austrian side ignored the appeals of representatives of the Iranian opposition living in Europe, to cancel the negotiations of the country’s leadership with Hasan Roukhani. In Vienna, the Iranian leader was met with military honors – in accordance with the status of the state visit. And the representatives of the top leadership of Austria, which took over the presidency of the EU Council on July 1, announced their intention to uphold the agreement signed in Vienna. “Austria regards this treaty as an important diplomatic achievement,” President Alexander van der Bellen said after the talks, which called compliance with international agreements “a key element of world politics.” “It’s not just about direct sanctions against Iran, but also about minor sanctions that affect Austria. These secondary sanctions, because of their extraterritorial application, violate international law, “Mr. van der Bellen reminded. And he added: “This view is taken by the European Commission in relation to the United States.” The similar statement was made by Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurtz.
However, despite the commitment of the EU leadership to the nuclear deal with Iran, in practical terms, to withdraw cooperation with Tehran from the impact as the American pressure intensifies, things get more complicated.
“The EU can define a general framework, but the specifics are the prerogative of individual states and structures. And from their side, there is less and less desire to conduct business with Iran. How to force private European companies to buy oil from Iran, breaking into US sanctions, is unclear, “Expert Andrei Baklitsky explained to the Kommersant special situation, according to which” there is a decrease in cooperation with Iran around the world.”
“The EU is waging a trade war with the US and obviously will not want to lose face, admitting that the Americans are telling him what to do. But the Europeans have no desire to fight for Iran either,” he added. In this situation, the main loser may be Iran and the reformers, headed by President Roukhani, who were in power in the country, who made a bid for resolving the nuclear crisis and normalizing relations with The West.
“Teheran will not receive any economic benefits from the withdrawal from the JCAP. On the contrary, the economic situation will continue to deteriorate. The country has already witnessed a series of protests in connection with a strong fall in the real rate, which this year fell by 50%, – Andrei Baklitsky recalled. “If the European part of the investments” is cut off “, the rate will drop even more, and this will cause new protests.”