Can a Renewed Iran Nuclear Deal Solve Europe's Energy Problems
Iveta Cherneva, author and analyst
When one year ago I discussed the potential for a renewed Iran nuclear deal with Mr. Raffael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), I expressed deep skepticism. US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is no John Kerry. I remember Kerry's visits to Geneva at Hotel Intercontinental – the place the Americans would meet their Iranian counterparts, just meters away from the UN headquarters. That first deal in 2015 took some craftsmanship to accomplish. When President Donald Trump came in guns blazing trying to eradicate anything that had the Obama stamp, and withdrew the US from the deal, Trump underestimated how much work it takes in order to get to something like the JCPOA. I was skeptical the Biden Administration would be able to pull it off.
About a year ago, as I was sitting at the HEI Graduate Institute in Geneva discussing the potential for a revived deal with the IAEA chief, I was sure that a Biden Administration won't be able to accomplish what Team Obama did several years earlier. Fast forward one year and I am about to be proven wrong. A new Iran nuclear deal is on the verge of taking place and it will be easier to achieve than what was thought of as feasible previously. The answer is that a year ago the Ukraine-Russia war was not a factor in the picture.
Sources tell Al Jazeera Arabic that an agreement to revive the landmark accord abandoned by the US is soon to be announced. The deal contained in the European proposal is "imminent", according to Al Jazeera. The sanctions on Iran will be removed with the release of Iranian oil and gas exports in return for the scaling back of the Iranian nuclear program. In other words, Iranian oil and gas are about to flood global markets in times when few see alternatives to Russian energy.
Europe doesn't share the same history and relations with Iran as the tense US-Iranian relations. That's why the EU can allow itself more than its American counterparts. US-Iran relations history includes shameful American coups, assassinations and regime overthrows in Iran, the capture of the US Embassy in Tehran by the Iranian students, the assassination of Iranian General Soleimani, and many other rock-bottom points. That path is very different for Europe. Throughout the years, many European countries and businesses have tried to find ways to circumvent American sanctions on Iran – either because of human rights concerns or because of strictly business concerns.
For US politicians there are also the November mid-term elections and a stance on Iran will be a prominent factor, especially for Senators on the foreign relations committees where pleasing Israel is a big factor in the mix. In comparison, the EU is taking the initiative and rushing to get the deal done just before winter when EU countries will find themselves at the mercy of President Putin, as they implement the new package of sanctions on Russia. Iran can provide an answer to European energy supply needs and fears without being constrained by the baggage that American politicians will be judged by.
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