EU's Ashton and Iran FM Zarif 370.
BERLIN – The European Union stands to reap major economic benefits from the
interim agreement with Iran over resolving Tehran’s nuclear program.
part of the agreement between the major powers and Iran, key areas where
sanctions relief is provided are the lucrative automobile trade and access to
its foreign reserves.
Israeli and German foreign policy experts weighed
in on the agreement for Europe.
The French-born Israeli Emmanuel Navon
told The Jerusalem Post
on Sunday, “This temporary relief will benefit European
car manufacturers that currently export to Iran, such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz,
Rover, Audi, Volkswagen, Renault and Peugeot.”
Navon, who is the director
of the Political Science & Communication Department at Jerusalem Orthodox
College, added “According to the deal signed in Geneva, Iran will enjoy a relief
package worth about $7 billion over the six months of the interim
This includes giving Iran access to about $3.6b. of its
foreign currency holdings that are frozen in overseas bank accounts and some
easing of restrictions on Iran’s trade in petrochemical products, precious
metals and parts for aircraft and cars.”
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, a
political science professor at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, told the Post
that “the eagerness of the UK government to restore relations with the Iranian
regime, and the rush by other European leaders to do the same in order to get
lucrative contracts reflects both moral and strategic failure.” He continued,
“They are signaling a willingness to accept Iran’s terms of reference including
the ongoing support for mass terror and blatant violations of the NPT [nuclear
proliferation treaty]. In this process, Europe will lose any residual leverage
in the Middle East.”
According to a Wall Street Journal
Thursday, Iran has started to court the French oil giant Total and the
British-Dutch energy company Royal Dutch Shell to invest in its oil and gas
While the current EU oil and gas sanctions are still intact, the
fear is the Iran accord reached on Sunday in Geneva could unravel this robust
and hard-fought sanctions architecture.
Steinberg, a leading expert on
EU-Israel relations, said that “one of the main reasons that Iran was able to
continue to violate its NPT commitments was the slow pace of
Had the current limitations been imposed 10 years ago when
Iran’s cheating became too obvious to ignore, the world would have been much
safer. And now, if short-term economic pressure strips the sanctions regime of
significance without an end to Iran’s illegal nuclear program, this would be a
Europe has consistently been one of Iran’s largest trade
partners, with bilateral trade reaching over 20b. euros.
remained Iran’s largest trade partner within the 28-member country EU. The
bilateral trade volume is a multi-billion euro relationship. German auto
manufacturers will greatly benefit from the relaxed auto sanctions.
the diplomatic front, European politicians, who are sympathetic to Iran’s
regime, started a push for Iran’s reentry into political life. MEP Tarja
Cronberg, chair of the European Parliament’s Iran delegation and a member of the
Foreign Affairs Committee and its subcommittee for Security and Defense, issued
a statement on Sunday calling for “ending Iran’s isolation.”
politician said, “This was a first step. Those against it are many: the hawks in
the US Congress and the hardliners in the Iranian leadership, Israel and Saudi
Arabia. But it was a necessary step, paving the way for mutual cooperative work,
the actual stepping stones still ahead. However, it was in the interest of all
parties to find a first agreement.”
Saba Farzan, a German-Iranian
director of Political Studies at the Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy,
told the Post, “It is quite remarkable how Europe has let the Obama
administration take the lead appeasing role in this historic failure of Geneva.
Europeans remember very well that it was exactly [Iranian President] Hassan
Rouhani that lied over and over again to them a decade ago and still only France
was able to veto such a sucker’s deal for a brief moment.”
the Swedish foreign minister, praised the EU’s top diplomat for reaching an
agreement with Iran. He wrote on Twitter, “Naturally, I have been in touch with
[EU foreign policy chief] Catherine Ashton and congratulated her on the deal.
Her contribution on behalf of EU was key.”
Israel previously accused the
Swedish government of wanting closer relations with Iran at the expense of
sanctions to solidify business for its telecommunications giant Ericsson. Bildt
denied the allegations.
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