The European Union has come to the defense of the Tehran regime and the 2015 nuclear deal after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday revealed a cache of secret Iranian plans to build nuclear weapons, almost three years after the signing of the deal.
The EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini dismissed the intelligence findings, claiming the deal was “based on concrete commitments, verification mechanisms and a very strict monitoring of facts.” She defended Iran’s conduct, saying, UN nuclear watchdog IAEA has “published 10 reports, certifying that Iran has fully complied with its commitments.”
“#IranDeal isn’t based on assumptions of good faith or trust. It’s based on concrete commitments, verification mechanisms and a very strict monitoring of facts, done by @iaeaorg” @FedericaMog‘s reply to a question regarding @IsraeliPM presentation on Iran https://t.co/lBRC3NeuIb
— European External Action Service – EEAS ???????? (@eu_eeas) April 30, 2018
In an uncharacteristic move, Germany contradicted the EU foreign policy chief by agreeing with Israeli intelligence assessment that the agreement had failed to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new-found flexibility on the issue could have something to do with her Oval Office meeting with President Trump on Friday.
“It is clear that the international community had doubts that Iran was carrying out an exclusively peaceful nuclear program,” a spokesman for the German government said. “It was for this reason the nuclear accord was signed in 2015, including the implementation of an unprecedented, thorough and robust surveillance system by the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
Despite these damning admissions, Chancellor Merkel stands firmly behind the nuclear deal. Merkel’s government “reacted cautiously to Israeli allegations,” reported the Germany’s state-funded broadcaster ARD. The assessment was echoed by the German weekly DIE ZEIT, saying the government was “restrained in its initial response” to the Israeli revelations.
The evidence, however, has finally forced the Germany government and the media to admit the flaws of the deal that they had been defending almost in unison.
“Israel’s scoop offers a chance for a better Iran deal,” the headline in the German daily DIE WELT said. “For years, Iran has shamelessly lied about its nuclear program. The Israeli revelations are a welcome opportunity to renegotiate the nuclear agreement.” The newspaper, however, dismissed the idea of killing the deal, saying, “Pulling out would be self-defeating.” Praising the Israeli intelligence Mossad, the newspaper wrote:
One thing is for sure: the operation by the Mossad, to smuggle out 50,000 documents belonging to the Iranian regime on its nuclear program, should make it into the annals of history of the Western intelligence agencies. It is a spectacular and daring mission–even for an agency known for its high-stake operations in order to secure the existence of Israel. [Translation by the author]
The nuclear deal, once described by the mainstream media as Obama administration’s “legacy-defining achievement,” could well be on its last legs as President Trump mulls pulling out of the agreement. The President has set May 12 as the deadline to decide the fate of the deal.
Largely thanks to President Trump’s diplomatic efforts, France has diluted its support for the Iran deal as well. Earlier this week, President Macron said he favored a “new deal” with Iran. However, the multi-billion trade agreements secured by French companies in Iranian oil and gas sector in the wake of the nuclear deal makes it unlikely for the French government to back any harsh US sanctions or actions against the Islamic regime. France, much like Germany, would prefer some additional safeguards than a complete US withdrawal from the agreement.
Meanwhile, Israel intensified its diplomatic efforts to bring the European countries on board. According to Israeli media, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke on the phone with President Macron and Chancellor Merkel about the intelligence concerning Iran’s secret nuclear program.
Prime Minister Netanyahu also plans to dispatch experts to France and Germany to share the intelligence. Israel will “send in the coming days professional teams that will share with Germany and France the detailed material Israel obtained on Iran’s efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon,” Israeli Prime Minister’s office wrote on Twitter.
Israeli Prime Minister also intends to appraise the British and Chinese leaders on the intel as well, Israeli media reports indicate.
PM Netanyahu spoke today with French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel.
PM Netanyahu agreed that he would send professional teams to share with Germany and France the detailed material that has reached Israel regarding Iran’s efforts to achieve nuclear weapons.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) April 30, 2018
Despite Israeli diplomatic push to convince France, Germany, and other European players of the obvious and inherent flaws of the Iran deal, it may be a uphill task. The lifting of sanctions on Tehran following the nuclear agreement has been a financial windfall for German and French private and public sector firms. Last summer, Iran signed a $5 billion energy deal with French oil giant Total. Apart from Germany’s interest in Iranian oil reserves, Berlin hopes to establish itself as the leading player in Iranian manufacturing sectors and infrastructure development. Aircraft-maker Airbus, in which Germany and France hold substantial stakes, landed a $27 billion contract to supply airliners to Tehran.
With billion of euros at stake, the European leaders have a vested interest in opposing a potential move by the US to scrap the deal. As novelist Upton Sinclair aptly said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
Video: Iran nuclear deal ‘needs to be preserved, says EU foreign policy chief Mogherini [April 25, 2018]
[Cover image via YouTube]
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