With the European Union set in a number of days to roll out a mechanism developed to enable companies to bypass US sanctions and do business with Iran, a senior adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron said that Europe has a track record on Iran that “we can be proud of.”Etienne de Gonneville, the Strategic Affairs Adviser to Macron, said on Tuesday at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) annual conference in Tel Aviv that France is worried that by withdrawing from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal – which the Europeans are trying to salvage with an instrument called the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) – the US may be sacrificing short term security gains of keeping Iran in the nuclear deal and preventing it from continuing to develop a military nuclear program, “for longer term goals that are respectable but for the moment vague and not clearly attainable.”The US has warned the EU that it will face penalties and fines if they try to bypass the US sanctions.De Gonneville listed the Iranian nuclear file as third on France’s list of priorities for the Mideast in 2019.First on the list, he said, was to defeat Islamic State, to “finish the fight in Iraq and Syria against this organization that was directly threatening France and its security,” and to prevent the return of Islamic terrorism to areas were Islamic State was already defeated.Second on the list, he said, was to “stop chemical weapons proliferation, which is why we struck with the US and the UK last year against Syrian targets.” He was referring to airstrikes by the three powers against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities last April, following the use of chemical weapons in Douma.Next on the list, de Gonneville said, was preventing nuclear proliferation and trying to keep the Iranian nuclear program under strict international surveillance.And number four on the list was to strengthen regional stability. De Gonneville said “one of the core elements of that stability is, of course, the security of Israel which is in no way negotiable, and then to develop strong partnerships with countries that can be anchors of that stability.”He said that President Reuven Rivlin’s visit to France last week, as well as Macron’s visit this week to Egypt, “is part of the same strategic approach of setting priorities for ourselves in a very uncomfortable and uncertain region.”De Gonneville said that one of the elements defining the French and European approach to Iran is a decision made after the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. He explained that this was to “deal with the existing regime in Iran, we are not looking for a regime change, we are just dealing with guys that are in power at the moment.”“The current maximize-pressure strategy proposed by our ally the United States is based on the assumption that Iran will continue to respect its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and that you can apply more and more pressure on the country without running the risk of the military program being resumed,” he said of the Iranian nuclear deal. “Our position is that we do not know that, and we do not want to take any risks.”De Gonneville said that the French and European strategy towards Iran rests on four pillars: the continued implementation of the JCPOA; negotiating a long term framework for the Iranians’ nuclear program, discussions that began with the US before it withdrew from the JCPOA in May; a curb on Iran’s missile program; and a limitation of Iran’s destabilizing regional influence.“On all those fronts, Europe has been active in the past months, we have a track record we can be proud of,” he said. “Unfortunately we are spending a lot of our time, a lot of our energy in trying to maintain Iran in the JCPOA and make sure it will respect its obligations.”One of the ways Europe hopes to do this is through the SPV that will facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran in a bid to circumvent US sanctions and give Iran benefits from remaining inside the JCPOA.