The fact that the future of the JCPOA nuclear deal hangs precariously in the balance, is hardly a secret. Since President Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement in May, the European signatories to the accord have been scrambling to keep it alive. In fact, the E3 as they have been dubbed (UK, France and Germany) have bent over backwards in their efforts to ensure that the JCPOA does not draw its final breath. Recently, they have performed somersaults to shield Iranian interests from the perils of renewed US sanctions, in order to protect the nuclear deal. And yet, Tehran has summarily dismissed their efforts. Not that you would have known it from the global media.
From the moment Trump rejected the JCPOA, Europe and Washington have appeared squarely at odds with each other over Tehran. The Trump Administration has spoken loudly and in no uncertain terms about the nature of the Iranian regime, condemning its wilful exploitation and repression of the Iranian people. Meanwhile, European leaders have continued to negotiate with the very same leadership, tiptoeing around their Iranian counterparts in a bid to save the JCPOA.
None more so than during the past several weeks. The E3 has devised a formula which would essentially compensate Iran for the potential impact of renewed US sanctions in August. They have proposed the creation of special measures to ensure that companies investing or working in Iran, are protected from secondary American sanctions. They have agreed to lend money to Iran via the European Investment Bank, should Tehran find itself short of finances. And they have suggested facilitating direct transfers to Iran’s central bank, in order to avoid US restrictions. In other words, Europe’s leaders are prepared to use any tool possible to make sure that Iran remains virtually untouched by Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, to ensure that the oppressive Tehran regime remains afloat.
It is fair to say that Europe is not so much going the extra mile for Iran, it running a marathon for Tehran. Incredibly, the E3 is demanding nothing in return. UK, France and Germany could and should have insisted on a sea-change in all sorts of behaviour – Withdrawal from Syria, an end to state-sponsored terror, gender equality – The list goes on. And yet, despite being given a free pass, Iran’s sense of entitlement apparently knows no bounds. Iran should have been dancing cartwheels at Europe’s misplaced generosity. Far from showing gratitude for Europe’s efforts, Tehran has churlishly disregarded them.
However, precious few international news outlets covered Iran’s rejectionism. Credit to Reuters which reported that Iran’s Foreign Minister called Europe’s offer both imprecise and incomplete. And to the Telegraph in the UK, which stated that Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told France’s President Macron that the package fell short of his demands.
Like a spoiled child, Iran has made clear that it won’t play nicely if it doesn’t get its way. Again, it has been woefully under-reported that Iran has threatened to renew uranium enrichment within 48 hours. More recently, few reported that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, considered one of the institutions most loyal to the country’s theocratic rulers, have threatened to close one of the world’s most important shipping passages, the Straits of Hormuz, if US sanctions are renewed. The untrained eye would have little or no idea that Iran is being so disruptive and hostile.
In fact, if you really wanted to know why relations between Tehran and much of the Western world are at such a low ebb, the international media would have you think that it was nothing to do with Iran’s continued belligerence and refusal to change its ways. A recent article on The Atlantic, warned that President Trump is on course for an “unnecessary fight” with Iran, as if this were some sort of playground dispute, rather than high-stakes geopolitics. Meanwhile, a column in the UK’s Guardian argued that “Trump and Putin’s unholy alliance could lead to war with Iran.” It would appear that the onus for the current state of affairs is squarely on anyone but Iran.
They say that it takes two to tango, that there are two sides to every argument. Yet, for much of the international media, it doesn’t appear to play out that way when it comes to Iranian responsibility. Europe is offering Tehran every opportunity to jump back onto the JCPOA. The fact that Iran is doing everything to ensure that European efforts come to nothing, should be a sure sign that Tehran has yet to give up its nuclear ambitions. But it seems that for the global media, Iranian culpability is apparently not big news.