Tuesday

29th Sep 2020

Opinion

Europe must back US on Iran sanctions

  • German and French leaders cannot hide this time behind the façade of the European Union (Photo: Truthout.org)

These are unsteady times. A global economic catastrophe persists while an overconfident China squeezes Hong Kong after rounding up its Uyghurs in concentration camps with impunity.

Protesters have marched on the streets of virtually every major western city. Belarus reels. Montenegro arrests clergy. Turkey threatens Greece. Moscow meddles.

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All of it happens against the backdrop of a once-in-a-century pandemic and a contentious presidential election in the United States.

Yet, one of the single most important concerns that should unite a divided and distracted world should be rebooting an UN arms embargo that has, till now, denied the newest conventional weapons to the homicidal regime controlling the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Yet, instead of joining the United States at the UN Security Council last week to vote for the sensible extension of the weapons embargo, France, Germany, and Belgium (along with the United Kingdom) chose to abstain.

Plainly put, this means that Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei could soon acquire up-to-date jets, tanks, and weapons systems that will enable them to wreak greater havoc against enemies, near and far.

Why the abstention? Perhaps it was visions of weapons or other lucrative deals?

Maybe, that's playing a role but at its core the vote smacks of instinctual anti-Trumpism.

Whatever their disdain for the larger than life tweeting machine of a President, in this case - Europeans, left, right, and centre ought to be utterly enraged that their leaders chose this issue as the one to lash out at Donald Trump.

By opposing efforts by the United States to reinstate the expiring arms embargo against Iran, some of Europe's top leaders risk letting their anti-American instincts threaten the security of the entire European experiment and on a continent which learned all too well the cost of appeasement in the last century.

In 2020, the French, German, and British leaders - Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, and Boris Johnson - are on the verge of appeasing a regime which directs global terrorism, threatens a "final solution" against the Jewish state, denies the Holocaust, executes homosexuals, suppresses women, and imprisons atheists, Christians, and people from the Bahai faith.

The good news is that Europe and Britain now have a second chance after making their profane point.

Now that they feel good about making the point to US secretary of state Mike Pompeo (that they cannot be taken for granted), Europe's leaders should immediately join the United States in exercising the "snapback" provision of the The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the Iran deal is formally called.

The "snapback" provision of the JCPOA is a safety valve built into the agreement which allows, in the words of then-US secretary of state John Kerry, any signatory "the ability to snap back all of the sanctions."

The provision was included to allow "one nation alone" to force the reinstitution of the sanctions relieved at the signing of the JCPOA.

In fact, former US vice president Joe Biden, and current Democrat presidential nominee, noted the provision when he was trying to sell the deal to an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations during the Obama administration.

"There will be a clear procedure in the final deal that allows both the UN and unilateral sanctions to snap back without needing to cajole lots of other countries - including Russia or China - to support it. That will be written in the final deal," Biden said.

Indeed, it would be most helpful to American voters and world leaders alike if Biden would clarify now if he still backs the snapback provision he pushed for while serving as Vice President of the United States.

By supporting the Trump administration's efforts to snapback the sanctions against Iran, Europe's leaders can rest easy that they aren't supporting a Trump policy but one conceived and approved by then President Obama.

The only acceptable reason to oppose the snapback of sanctions would be to argue that Tehran is not in violation of the JCPOA, but - clearly and obviously it is.

Iran violations

A partial list of Iran's nuclear JCPOA violations were compiled by the International Atomic Energy Agency( IAEA) itself, stating in May that Iran had:

Enriched Uranium to a purity greater than 3.67 percent;

Increased its low-enrichment uranium stockpile to more than 300 kg;

Stored excess amounts of heavy water;

Tested advanced centrifuges;

Restarted enrichment at the Fordow enrichment plant.

And for good measure, the IAEA reports that Iran refuses to allow international inspectors into suspected nuclear sites.

Of course, beyond the nuclear question, Iran's dangerous behaviour is exhaustively documented, from enabling president Bashir Al-Assad's genocidal campaign in Syria, to many lethal acts of terrorism throughout South America, the Middle East, and in Europe itself.

Then, of course, questions are now emerging about the astonishing amount of ammonium nitrate which nearly destroyed Beirut earlier this month.

Would anyone be surprised if the Lebanese militant force Hezbollah was storing an apocalyptic amount of the same explosive chemical in Beirut which they have stored from Malta to Germany to the United Kingdom?

It is, after all, a chemical which was used in the bomb that killed nearly 100 people and destroyed the Jewish Community's headquarters in Buenos Aires in 1994?

Not to mention, Iranian supplied missiles - an estimated 150,000 of them - are embedded within Lebanon's civilian infrastructure, pointing toward Israel.

And, of course, the Ayatollah is always threatening to use his weapons. While it seems so long ago, the Ayatollah's chief lackey in Lebanon, Hezbollah chief Sayyed Nasrallah threatened to level Dubai and Haifa after the United States eliminated Qasem Soleimani.

So, now, as Macron, Merkel, and Johnson are correctly rushing to send humanitarian aid to rebuild a devastated Beirut from an apparently accidental explosion, why would they clear the way for more weapons to find their way to Lebanon and moving up the ticking time bomb on Israel's border?

If war is ignited there, the Beirut blast will seem like child's play, with massive destruction and casualties guaranteed on both sides of the border.

German and French leaders cannot hide this time behind the façade of the European Union. It is time for them, along with the UK, to send the world's most dangerous man, the Ayatollah Khamenei, a message that he will have to choose between snapping back to a peaceful economy or a united front of western powers snapping back to their senses.

Author bio

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Reverend Johnnie Moore is the president of The Congress of Christian Leaders and a Commissioner on the US Commission for International Religious Freedom.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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