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Division between the EU and the U.S. - Iran’s Crisis GS2 - IR

The division between the EU and the U.S. over Iran is becoming a pressing security challenge since the US, under Trump, abandoned the nuclear deal with Iran(JCPOA 2015) on May 8 2018. 

  • Following the U.S.’s move, Iran has deliberately violated its terms by producing more low-enriched uranium than the agreement permits.

  • The European nations seem worried about a growing list of violations of the deal by Iran.

  • Iran recently seized a U.K.-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

  • But despite all these, they want to preserve the deal (JCPOA - the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

  • The Iran crisis reflects the strains between the U.S. and Europe over the U.S. President’s maximalist political approaches.

Differences

  • Main bone of contention- The Persian Gulf is a strategic area which Europe needs to keep open to guarantee the flow of oil and ensure its economic security.

  • United States has announced a push for an international coalition that would monitor activity in the gulf and around Hormuz strait area and guard against maritime security breaches. The coalition would be known as “Operation Sentinel.” Although it is unclear as of yet which countries will make up this alliance, over 20 states are in consideration. France and Germany have refused to join it.

  • Moreover, Europeans are fearful of getting involved in another war in West Asia.

  • In fact, they do not trust that Mr Trump would keep his word and that he would not attack Iran.

  • Also, the Europeans have been trying to find ways for their businesses to avoid the effects of American sanctions on Iran.

  • France, Germany and the U.K- the E3 have developed a mechanism to trade with Iran legally using a trading system known as INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges). It has been designed to permit countries to trade with Iran without the use of American dollars, so as to avoid the U.S. financial system.

  • For many European companies, the risk of facing sanctions because of trade with Iran is more.

  • It outweighs any gain from trading with the Islamic Republic and more specifically the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) which is targeted by the U.S. as a terrorist organisation.

  • America’s allies are wary of Trump’s administration’s intentions to provoke a war with Iran no matter what the consequences are for the rest of the world.

  • Evidently, no European country wants to trigger a military confrontation with Iran.

  • This is because it would draw in other regional states and non-state actors.

Outcome 

  • The present reality is that the situation is at a deadlock.

  • European powers could play a major role in ending U.S.-led economic warfare against Iran.

  • They could contribute to building a more effective diplomatic process in West Asia.

  • It is high time that the Trump administration needs to make decisions given the costly setbacks that some of its recent policies have seen.

  • For the Iranian government, the most immediate priority is to ask for help from France and Germany in finding a way out of the current economic crash dive.

  • This is crucial for containing public unrest and preventing social instability inside the country.

  • But ultimately, Iran will need to show some signs of flexibility.

  • By this, possibly, the arrangements arrived at in the nuclear deal could be enlarged and applied to other key issues

 

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