Europe Appeasing Trump on Iran Would Backfire

Iranian deputy foreign minister says the current disagreement over Iran’s nuclear deal between Europe and the US as long-time allies is “unprecedented”
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas AraqchiIranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov says the initiative of Washington, Paris, London, and Berlin to launch a working group to address concerns around the agreement is unlikely to bring any positive results

European attempts to appease US President Donald Trump by promising to pressure Iran over non-nuclear issues will yield opposite results, says a deputy foreign minister.

"Some Europeans think that if they give concessions to Trump on issues not included in the JCPOA, they can keep Trump in the nuclear agreement. This is a completely wrong policy and will definitely backfire," Abbas Araqchi said in remarks carried by IRNA on Monday, in reference to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's nuclear program.

It has been reported in western media that Britain, France, and Germany are likely to present a package of measures to the United States to allay Trump's concerns about Iran without reopening the 2015 nuclear accord.

The new strategy could include threatening Iran with targeted economic sanctions if it does not agree to curtail its ballistic weapons arsenal as well as pressuring Tehran into changing its regional policy, according to a Reuters story.

Iran has repeatedly said its missile program is purely defensive and has dismissed accusations that its regional activities are destabilizing.

*** Wrong policy

Araqchi said it is not clear what strategy will be adopted by European powers in the coming months but they have been told that such a policy would be "wrong".

"Over the past year, the US government and the new president tried hard to destroy the nuclear deal or amend it if possible. They first attempted to create difficult conditions so that Iran would leave the agreement. Then they tried to convince Europe to modify the deal. Then Trump threw the ball into the US Congress' court but the US Congress did not go along with him. Now, Donald Trump has set a new deadline."

Trump, who took office in 2017, said on January 12 he would extend a waiver on nuclear sanctions against Iran but gave the European allies and congress 120 days to come up with a tougher approach on Tehran or see US sanctions reimposed.

Araqchi described the nuclear agreement negotiated by the US, China, France, Russia, Britain, Germany, and the European Union as a major diplomatic achievement for Europe, which it is seeking to maintain.

*** Unprecedented Discord  

European powers have voiced their support for the nuclear deal and the current disagreement between Europe and the US as long-time allies is "unprecedented", said the deputy for political affairs at the Foreign Ministry.

"The important thing is that we have had close consultations and cooperation with Europe over the last year. But I am not saying that between Iran and the US, it will choose Iran," he said.

However, European states understand that if they scrap the agreement while Tehran is still fully abiding by it, they will lose their credibility on the international stage, the senior diplomat noted.

***Missile Talks

Asked about comments by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian that he would discuss Iran's ballistic missile program and the nuclear pact during his trip to Tehran on March 5, Araqchi said the country's missile program is non-negotiable.

However, he explained that "negotiations" sometimes mean an ordinary exchange of opinion over issues of concern rather than organized talks.

Iran has no plans to hold organized talks with any country to reach a conclusion over its missile activities, he stated.

*** Working Group

In addition, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has said the initiative of Washington, Paris, London, and Berlin to launch a working group to address concerns around the agreement is unlikely to bring any positive results.

"[Moscow] does not expect any positive developments in the light of such decisions and possible agreements," Ryabkov told Sputnik in an interview published on Tuesday.

"We do not believe that any agreements and understanding that might be achieved in this format, without involving Iran and other parties to the JCPOA, will have any impact in terms of maintaining our position to support full implementation of the agreement without any adjustments," he said.

The official added that Russia will consider a proposal to join the contact group on Iran, if it receives any, but is concerned about the trend toward close and separate forms of negotiations, which the US and its western partners have recently resorted to.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that a working group comprising the US and EU diplomats had been established to discuss approaches to Iran and concerns about the nuclear deal.


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