On January 8, Iranian officials walked out of a meeting with European diplomats after they expressed that Europe will no longer tolerate the Iranian ballistic missile program or assassination attempts on European soil.
Alarmed by U.S. President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, Europe has attempted to keep the deal alive with Iran. Now it appears that their shifting stance could mean the final blow for the JCPOA. Iran’s international ambitions appear to offer Brussels and Washington a chance to work together more closely.
“The U.S. welcomes Europe’s efforts to counter Iranian terrorism on European soil, its missile launches, human rights abuses, and other threats,” said an official from the U.S. State Department.
Talks Continues to be Stymied
Last year, the Trump administration accused Iran of harboring nuclear ambitions and creating instability throughout the region, as well as flaunting its ballistic missile program. They also questioned Iran’s continuing support of militant groups throughout the Middle East.
Despite efforts to have Iran meet the international community halfway by shifting its course in Syria, the Iranian government has just gone on the defensive and talks have yielded no results.
Europe tried to demonstrate that economic benefits were still possible despite the U.S. imposing sanctions as it withdrew from the JCPOA. In line with that, the European Union is officially launching a mechanism to trade with Iran and thus go around the U.S. Diplomats are frustrated by a lack of movement on Iran’s part despite these efforts.
“There’s a feeling of frustration among Britain, France, and Germany, and others, after the first phase of diplomacy with Iran,” said another senior EU diplomat. “We thought we could get some effort from the Iranians in several areas.”
Iran accused Europe of dragging its feet and argued that their actions were not enough to save the nuclear agreement.
Standing Up to Address Assassination Attempts
One of the biggest issues for Europe is the ongoing assassination attempts that can be traced to the regime. A set of sanctions targeting members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and those involved in the ballistic missile program were announced by the European Union on January 9.
“We’d prefer not to take these measures, but they need to stop trying to kill people on our territory and over the last three years they have beefed up their ballistic missile program,” said one senior European diplomat.
Others expressed concern that the two day conference being held in Poland that was organized by the U.S. could serve to divide Europe even further on the question of Iran. In the meantime, the relationship between Iran and Poland is being strained as Iran responses to Poland’s hosting of the conference in February.