The ins and outs over the future of the Iran nuclear deal – Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – continue to dominate the headlines. Following US President Trump’s decision to abandon the agreement, the three European signatories – UK, France and Germany – continue their dogged attempt to keep the deal alive, despite its obvious flaws. Following ministerial-level talks this week between the so-called E3 and Iran, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini declared determination to rescue the JCPOA from “intensive care.” Europe seems prepared to ignore the inherent deficiencies and defects which have placed the agreement in such mortal danger.
Amid the commentary and speculation over the JCPOA’s future, another episode is at risk of being entirely lost in the cacophony. However, it is no less important or instructive when it comes to the nuclear accord. Earlier this month, Morocco announced that it is severing all diplomatic ties with Iran. Having uncovered compelling evidence of Tehran’s support for the Polisario Front, a terror group in Western Sahara, Morocco expelled the Iranian Ambassador. Morocco’s Foreign Minister explained that Iran and its proxy Hezbollah had been training and arming Polisario fighters. He even detailed the type of surface-to-air missiles Hezbollah had sent to Polisario, via Iran’s embassy in neighbouring Algeria. All of which, left Morocco with no choice. After all, who could possibly continue diplomatic relations with a country which poses a direct threat?
It is a question the E3 would do well to carefully consider. Because Morocco is not an isolated example of Iran’s alliance with terror across the globe. Far from it. It has been well reported that Iran supplied short-range ballistic missiles to Houthi terror groups in Yemen, which were fired at Tehran’s nemesis Saudi Arabia. But Europe should be under no illusions – Iran’s terror tentacles reach much further afield than the conflicts on its doorstep in the Middle East.
In 1994, a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 85 innocent people and wounding more than 200 others. Nobody has ever been brought to justice over the outrage. However, the bombing had Iran’s fingerprints all over it and Argentina issued arrest warrants for a number of Iranian officials, including former-Defence Minister Gen Ahmad Vahidi, who in 1994 commanded the Iran Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force. Argentina has no history of conflict with Iran, no axe to grind. The bombing simply underscored Tehran’s determination to advance its Islamist agenda, whatever the cost to morality, decency and basic humanity.
And closer to home, the UK, France and Germany should pay close attention to the Iranian-sponsored attacks which have been carried out in EU member states – Again, countries with no record of discord with Tehran. In the Bulgarian resort of Burgas in 2012, Hezbollah carried out a bus bombing, killing five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian driver. Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev publicly stated his government was in no doubt Hezbollah was behind the attack. Meanwhile, in 2015, a Cypriot court sentenced a Hezbollah operative to six years’ imprisonment for plotting a bombing on the island. And as Hezbollah’s own leader, Hassan Nasrallah has admitted, his organisation is directly subordinate and subservient to Tehran. Iran commands, Hezbollah strikes. Not only in the chaos of the Middle East, or the far flung corners of South America, but in the European Union itself.
These cases should serve as a warning to the E3. Nobody, not even Europe, is immune from Iran’s terror network. Time and again, Tehran has shown its willingness to launch attacks wherever it believes its ideological agenda is best served. Perhaps the UK, France and Germany are unable to see this reality, as they busy themselves with trying to fit square pegs into the round holes of a nuclear deal which can never end Iran’s nuclear ambitions. By doing so, the E3 continues to willingly do business with a regime which would not hesitate to strike them with terror too. Is this what European diplomacy has come to? Prime Minister May, President Macron, Chancellor Merkel and Federica Mogherini would do well to heed the warning and pay close attention to Morocco’s alternative model. Because although Tehran is prepared to play ball for now, Iran has never taken the terror option off the table.