Europe Facing a Litmus Test to Earn Iran's Trust

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Seyyd Hossein Rezvani
Iran's former ambassador to Norway


Q: How Iran is approaching the nuclear deal with the P5+1 group of countries, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), following withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA, and what options will be available to Iran from now on?

A: We consider the JCPOA as an international document, which belongs to the entire international community and has been clearly and accurately supported by the United Nations Security Council through Resolution 2231. Therefore, it would be totally wrong to assume that the United States has only to deal with Iran following its withdrawal from the JCPOA, because Washington is now faced with the entire international community. I must note that the JCPOA is not only very important to Iran, but also to all other parties to this agreement.

There is no doubt that after the United States quit the JCPOA, safeguarding the authority of the Security Council has turned into a matter of significance for the permanent members of this council, because this issue is of vital importance to them. The measure taken by the United States to unilaterally quit the JCPOA not only undermines the authority of the Security Council, but also entails no benefit for other countries and will even set a very important negative precedent with regard to the long-term legal consequences of non-compliance with the UN Security Council’s decisions.

In my opinion, and as many Iranian officials have already noted, if the JCPOA does not help Iran achieve the benefits it sought through this international deal, the Islamic Republic will certainly not consider it as a deal. Now, taken into account that the United States was a determining party to the JCPOA, which had imposed the most important sanctions against Iran, its withdrawal from the nuclear accord will lead to the assumption on the part of Iran that it is no longer under any obligation to remain a party to the JCPOA. Of course, it seems that staying in this deal and starting a new round of negotiations with the European Union is the most dominant option for Iran at the present time. The existing evidence shows that both sides – that is, Iran and the European Union – have reached this conclusion as well. In my opinion as an expert monitoring these developments, at the present juncture, proposals put forth by the three major European countries – namely, France, Germany and Britain – should be carefully and cautiously taken into consideration and examined.

Iran, for its part, must try to find a solution, which would ensure the highest degree of the country’s interests. The officials in charge of Iran's diplomatic apparatus are currently trying to follow their regular procedure through the constructive and interaction-based approach that the Islamic Republic has taken to the world and listen to what the European Union has to say and offer. However, I think it is necessary to emphasize the point that in the event of starting negotiations over a complementary agreement, Iran's security concerns must be certainly addressed to their full extent. Such an agreement must be able to create a regional security system, which would impose similar commitments on all countries in this region. Of course, I think that such paramount security issues as Iran's missile program or its regional presence and influence are by no means open to any negotiations.

Any form of possible complementary agreement with Europe must not only do away with Iran's security concerns and treat stakeholders to that agreement on an equal standing, but must also lead to resolution of regional issues in a way that would be beneficial to all regional nations. A complementary agreement must be a binding accord with strong support from the UN Security Council. It must also offer an efficient and fair system with powerful guarantees in a manner that it would not be violable by other parties nor subject to selective treatment of its members.

Q: If Iran were given necessary security guarantees through a complementary agreement, would it be able to enter into negotiations with the opposite side?

A: Yes. This would be possible provided that national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran is taken into account. A while ago, Iran voluntarily accepted to limit the range of its defensive ballistic missiles to a maximum of 2,000 kilometers, because this range was considered enough to repel any threat posed to our country. On the other hand, Iran does not seek to implement provocative scenarios originating in Tel Aviv. Iran considers itself obligated to protect peace at regional and international levels and this is an incontrovertible component of the Islamic Republic of Iran's foreign policy.


Interviewer: Ramin Nadimi
 Expert in Defense and Military Affairs


*These views represent those of the author and are not necessarily Iran Review's viewpoints.

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