Alwaght- The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in a three-day visit to West Asia region as the “heart of the crisis”, as described by Germany’s foreign ministry, landed on Monday in Tehran as his last station after traveling to Jordan, Iraq, and the UAE. Iran was his most important stop. Despite the fact that the German foreign ministry announced the trip objective to be aimed at efforts to stop the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in the region, the fact is that Berlin sent its top diplomat, who represents the EU, to negotiate with Tehran the future of 2015 nuclear deal.
Before arriving in Tehran, Maas made comments about the European commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), though none of which complied with the international political developments and reality. Closing eye to the West's failure to full fill to deal with Iran, Maas asked Iran to stay committed to the terms of the agreement. This analysis aims to shed light on Mass’s mission as EU representative and the Tehran visit achievements.
Cracking the code of Maas’s JCPOA mission
Maas is the first top German diplomat to travel to Iran after the US in early May 2018 pulled out of the nuclear deal. He is representing the EU bloc in the negotiations with Tehran after the Islamic Republic over a month ago issued an ultimatum to the bloc urging it to show tangible commitment to the agreement. After Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced reducing Tehran’s commitments to the deal in response to the US sanctions, the European countries and even the US frantically pursued possible Iranian withdrawal from the JCPOA. With this in mind, Maas’s mission can be watched from two principal aspects:
First, using a soft tone, the German top diplomat sought to persuade Iran to stay in the deal. In a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart, he said that the three European signatories— Germany, France, and Britain— want to keep the deal alive. They, he said, continue to try to help push ahead the agreement, though they “cannot work miracles.” By these comments, Maas tried to justify European breaking of promises and tell the Iranians that the EU can only move in the current path and that Iran should not expect more.
Second, Maas sought to give Tehran encouraging promises on the EU adherence to the deal and the bloc’s efforts to launch the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), a special-purpose vehicle aimed at circumventing the US-dominated global financial system. Maas was accompanied by Per Fischer, the German head of the INSTEX. He in a press conference in Tehran said that the EU seeks to launch the trade mechanism. But he asked Iran to stay committed arguing that the US pullout should not give other parties of the deal the pretext to cut their sticking to the deal.
All in all, Maas’s mission revolved around saying that EU lacks the power to fully tackle the American sanctions and at the same time telling Iran that the EU is pressing to frustrate part of the effects of the US embargo should Iran stay in the deal, though it is highly unlikely that they can do much to block the pressure against Iran. Tehran insists that the remaining parties should take concrete steps and make sacrifices for the deal to stay alive.
Europe still under US dominance
In a general view, the achievements of Maas’s visit to Tehran should be regarded as very trivial and frustrating for the EU. The fact is that while the US illegal pressures on Iran give Tehran every reason to cut its commitment to the nuclear deal, the Europeans have done little to defend the agreement and materialize what they promised to do as a commitment under the deal. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report, Iran has increased the production of low-enriched uranium to 12 kilograms per month, three times more than the months before. This shows that more than any other time, the JCPOA has moved close to its death. What is certain is that the European bloc does not seem to have any serious will to save the deal and realize its promise of launching sanctions-evading financial system for trade with Iran.
It looks like the Europeans even now cannot free themselves from the yoke of the several-decade US dominance. Despite the will to take on the White House and oppose its demands, they do not dare stand in the face of the US president Donald Trump’s excesses.
So far, the European leaders have talked the talks using the most beautiful words about the commitment to the deal but they have not walked the walk in practice. So, Iran apparently deals with the German FM’s remarks as unserious and empty pledges like those made before by various EU diplomats.