France is more and more apparently disengaging from its EU Three partners – Britain and Germany – as regards the future of the Iran's nuclear program international agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Last week, before holding talks with US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron definitely decided to have an anti-Iranian game on the American field. "We have to deliver together these four objectives," Macron said. They include making sure Iran has no nuclear weapons, reducing its ballistic activity, containing the regional activity and the most important objective – peace. To achieve these goals, the French President believes, it is necessary to start a new negotiation with Tehran.
It is symbolic that these statements were made in Normandy during celebrations dedicated to the 75th anniversary of American troops' landing in the north of France, which marked the opening of the Second front in World War II. France, whose merits in the victory over Nazi Germany are exaggerated, to put it mildly, played host to leaders of a number of anti-Hitler coalition member-states.
The profound French diplomacy of playing to the strongest, remained true to itself again. France, perhaps hoping to once again find itself close to the "winner", has almost completely aligned oneself with the anti-Iranian stance of the current US administration.
After all, it was head of the White House Donald Trump who quit the Iranian nuclear deal last year. The latter allegedly failed to provide credible guarantees that the Islamic Republic would not develop and construct nuclear weapons, and that its ballistic missiles would not be able to carry nuclear warheads. The deal, according to the Washington administration, also did not limit Tehran's foreign policy ambitions or block its "disruptive behavior" in the Middle East. In the simplest terms, Iran's growing influence in the Middle East and Central Asia is at odds with the objectives of the United States and its closest allies – Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Trump withdrew from the deal and imposed the toughest sanctions on Iran with all the American straightforwardness. And France and its EU Three partners, while remaining in the JCPOA framework, simply did not fulfill their obligations, which would allow Iran to take advantage of the economic benefits stipulated in the transaction. The European financial mechanism INSTEX, designed to ensure transactions under Iranian foreign trade contracts in terms of euros bypassing the dollar, was created but never launched for some reason. It’s pure and simple camouflaged sanctions! But this is not enough. Paris is also actually advancing additional demands to Tehran, which the latter has repeatedly refused even to discuss. So much for the great French "politician"!
"Under the current circumstances, their (the French) move to raise issues beyond the JCPOA will not only fail to help save the JCPOA, but will also prepare the grounds for further distrust among the parties remaining in the agreement. Such moves will also take the US closer to the goal behind its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, namely the collapse of the multilateral deal," – Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi said with reference to the US-French meeting in Normandy.
The United Kingdom and Germany are also demonstrating their commitment to the nuclear agreement verbally alone. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas headed for Tehran seeking to save the nuclear deal, the AFP agency reports. But it is not Tehran where one needs to save it, since the latter strictly adheres to the agreement, but Paris, where INSTEX headquarters is located.
However, time for salvation is on the decrease. In early May, Iran already refused to comply with a number of agreement clauses and stipulated the following condition: unless the EU and the EU Three countries start fulfilling their obligations under the nuclear deal within 60 days, the Islamic Republic will proceed to the second stage of suspending its JCPOA commitments, i.e. producing 3.67 per cent enriched uranium and halting the reconstruction of the Arak heavy water reactor. The term expires in early July.
It has to be said that the Russian side is sympathetic to Iran's actions to backslide on its self-imposed commitments. But at the same time, Moscow believes that Tehran's tougher approach leaves less of a shot preserving the JCPOA in general, and increases the risk of an armed confrontation in the Persian Gulf. This concern was, among other things, expressed to the Iranian side in the course of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov's visit to Tehran in late April.
Unlike the EU Three states, Russia and China display devotion to the JCPOA and the consistency of message on the Iranian nuclear deal, considering this international agreement as the most important achievement in both nuclear non-proliferation and strengthening security in the Middle East, enshrined in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231. Following last week's Moscow talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the parties made a joint statement, urging Iran "to refrain from further steps to cease the fulfillment of its obligations under the JCPOA" and called on other members of the JCPOA to fulfill their obligations. Moscow and Beijing also reminded that "the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirms in its reports that Iran continues to fulfill its obligations under the JCPOA. The sides also condemn the unilateral sanctions by the USA against the Islamic Republic of Iran."