Iran’s Strategy of Resistance against US Sanctions Policy Has Worked: Italian Analyst
- September, 20, 2020 - 19:31
- Politics news
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - A senior fellow with the Transatlantic Program of the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) said Iran's strategy of resistance against Washington has worked as “the US cannot credibly claim that UN sanctions are still in place”.
“I think their strategy of resistance has worked, as the US cannot credibly claim that UN sanctions are still in place. This shows their lingering commitment to the JCPOA because they feared that Iran would have quit the deal, ejected IAEA inspectors and perhaps left the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) too if the snapback had gone through,” Riccardo Alcaro told Tasnim.
Riccardo Alcaro was a nonresident fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe. He is an expert in transatlantic political and security relations with a focus on US-European cooperation in Europe’s neighboring regions, including the Middle East and North Africa, Iran and the Persian Gulf, the Sahel, Eastern Europe, and Russia.
Following is the text of the interview.
Tasnim: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that he triggered a 30-day process at the UNSC leading to the return of UN sanctions on Iran on Saturday evening that would also stop a conventional arms embargo on Tehran from expiring on Oct. 18. But 13 of the 15 Security Council members say Washington’s move is void because Pompeo used a mechanism agreed under a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which the United States quit in 2018. Washington argues it triggered the return of sanctions - known as “snapback” - because a UN resolution that enshrines the pact still names it as a participant. What would happen? How this could affect international ties?
Alcaro: US claims that UN sanctions will soon be in force again because of the activation of the snapback mechanisms is not considered valid by anyone. this said, the expiration of the arms embargo in October 2020 does not mean that there will be easy access to conventional weapons for Iran. Many countries, the European ones included, see no advantages in exporting arms to Iran, and those who might want to do so may well be sanctioned by the US.
As for how the US move on the snapback affects international relations, I would say that it has damaged the authority of the UN security council and shown once more that the Trump administration understands international politics as an arena where deals can only follow coercion rather than diplomatic compromises. Let me say though that in this case the E3 has behaved quite consistently with their commitment to the Security Council, multilateral regimes and the JCPOA. They have no interest in selling weapons to Iran, yet they were not ready to see the USA twist UNSC resolution 2231 to make use of the snapback, which is only available to participants in the JCPOA. I think their strategy of resistance has worked, as the US cannot credibly claim that UN sanctions are still in place. This shows their lingering commitment to the JCPOA, because they feared that Iran would have quit the deal, ejected IAEA inspectors and perhaps left the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) too if the snapback had gone through.
Tasnim: So far, Europe has supported Iran but We know that it follows Washington’s lead in imposing sanctions due to economic reasons. Do you think that Iran can rely on the EU and should be satisfied by the extent of Europe’s support for the JCPOA?
Alcaro: EU member states, as well as the UK, have not followed the US lead in adopting sanctions against Iran. All EU sanctions that had been adopted before the JCPOA were lifted and remain lifted. The problem is that US "secondary" sanctions have an extra-territorial reach, in that they threaten all foreign companies (European included) with fines and other restrictions to their businesses in the US if they trade with or invest in Iran. EU governments would like their banks and companies to do business with Iran, but haven't so far been able to find an effective way to protect them from the extra-territorial sanctions of the US. Let me stress that this is not a European problem only, as even Chinese and Russian companies have had to bow to US coercion.
While Iran cannot obviously be satisfied with Europe’s record in defending the JCPOA, it should not dismiss it as useless either. The E3 and the EU have continued to express their political commitment to the deal and have complained regularly with the US because of the use of extra-territorial sanctions. Europe remains committed to having normal economic relations and an ongoing political dialogue with Iran. If Trump is defeated in November, the Europeans will press for getting some form of sanctions relief for Iran and re-start a diplomatic process that may eventually bring US back to the constructive atmosphere we had when the JCPOA was signed. If Trump is re-elected, the Europeans will continue to oppose maximum pressure and make the case for diplomacy as long as Iran’s breaches of the JCPOA remain modest. In fact, they would continue to promote diplomacy even if the JCPOA collapses altogether, although in that case they would be forced to exert pressure too
Tasnim: As you know, Iran and the Iranian nations have resisted Washington’s excessive demands, managing to gain some concessions in favor of their national interests. The Islamic Republic has also paid a high price for this. What measures and decisions do you think Iran should adopt at this juncture?
Alcaro: Iran is at a critical juncture. For all the bad blood with the Europeans, due to Iran's perception of Europe's ambivalence and/or irrelevance, a functioning political-economic relationship with Europe remains of invaluable importance for Iran, economically, technologically and also strategically, because it would allow the Iranian leadership not to become the weakest link in a tripartite anti-US coalition involving China and Russia too. While Iran is wise in cultivating relations with Russia and China, it can only gain if its foreign policy options are not limited to Russia and china only, and Europe is by far the greatest guarantee for Iran not become a factor in the geopolitical contest between the US/Europe and Russia/China.
If Iran’s leaders see any wisdom in the above reasoning, they should consider their options in light of the result of the US election. If Biden wins, they should seek some form of detente, a process that may lead the US back to the JCPOA and even something bigger - whereby Iran would get more in exchange for giving more. If Trump wins re-election, Iran would be in a more difficult spot, yet Trump may last 4 more years whereas Iran’s interest in strategic independence will last forever. while his administration is overtly anti-Iran, Trump himself may be brought to change tack, perhaps by promising something big (anything that can be framed as Iran tilting less towards China and more to the us would be welcome) in return for something equally big (sanctions relief and a series of meetings with Trump himself). If that's unacceptable to Iran’s leaders, then buying time and waiting for riper times for diplomacy is in my opinion a wise course of action.