The Iran Deal and Iran-EU Relations

Friday, July 31, 2015

Behzad Khoshandam
Ph.D. in International Relations & Expert on International Issues

The European Union has been, and will continue to be, among effective actors that have played a role in the management of Iran’s nuclear issue. The experience in past 13 years has shown that relations between Iran and the EU in this period have been heavily affected by Iran's nuclear case. Therefore, the impact of the Iran deal achieved on July 14, 2015, on Iran-EU relations will be a key element in analyzing future outlook of interactions between Iran and the EU and will also play an important role in the implementation of the Iran deal.

Iran's trust in the EU and European actors in the past few decades has arisen from historical experience of a sense of insecurity among Iranians who tried to achieve a maximum degree of their security-seeking goals through trust in European values and norms under the emerging global conditions. Before the recent agreement, the EU had also played a positive role in Iran's nuclear issue examples of which included the Tehran Statement (2003); the Paris agreement (2004); the nuclear initiatives offered by the EU in August 2005 and June 1, 2006; the role of the EU in the Geneva 3 negotiations; and the achievement of the Geneva Agreement (the Joint Plan of Action) in 2013, followed by the Lausanne Agreement in 2015. The role that the European Union has played in making the Iran deal possible on the basis of dynamism and strategic influence of Iran's foreign policy, which is based on the Iranian administration’s “constructive interaction” discourse, has been the climax of the EU’s pragmatism which is rooted in the Union’s large-scale strategy of expedientism with regard to Iran.

Approval of anti-Iran sanctions in June 2010 and the implementation of those sanctions from 2012, in addition to the EU’s role in adoption of the UN Security Council’s resolution on Iran's nuclear issue, and the EU’s support for imposition of unjust unilateral sanctions on Iran by other countries, caused a relative freeze in bilateral relations at a time that the Arab Spring was in full swing. That period of time was among the darkest chapters of the Green Continent’s performance with regard to Iran, which was influenced by an international atmosphere of Iranophobia and was in line with Europe’s expediency-based approach to Iran from 2010 to 2015.

At present and after the conclusion of the Iran deal, the Iranian society and citizens have high expectations from the EU, which won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. Given the EU’s fear of extremism and terrorism, Iran can be an anchor of stability in the neighborhood of the European Union in order to help establish regional stability. From the viewpoint of Iranians, the EU is one of the first and most reliable options for cooperation in post-sanctions era, and is a good partner in Iran's efforts to boost regional security and stability. However, the tautology between the United States and the EU is still of high importance in Iran's approach to international developments and actors.

Fighting extremism, making efforts to bolster trade and economic interactions, taking advantage of Iran's soft power capacities in the world and the region, the Arab-Israel peace process, as well as promotion of bilateral cooperation in such areas as industry, culture, society, tourism, academic level, and between the two sides’ civil societies, are among major strategic and tactical items that should be put on the agenda of normalization of ties between Iran and the European Union.

EU can facilitate implementation of the Iran deal through removal of sanctions, active mediation, and constructive confidence-building with Iran, thus paving the way of institutionalized cooperation between a strong and powerful Iran and international community. In its effort to set an agenda for interaction with Iran in the light of the Iran deal, the EU can sacrifice Atlanticism for Eurocentrism in order to prevent Iran's future relations with international community being overshadowed by Europhobia, and adversity toward Atlanticism and the United States.

Fair, just and mediatory behavior of the EU with regard to the Iran deal will offer this political actor a very good opportunity to shine within the framework of international system. Also, fair treatment of the Iran deal by the EU will do away with the existing tautology, which puts the EU on the same par with the United States in the eyes of Iranians.

The highest expectations that Iranians have of the European Union for the stability of post-sanctions conditions is that the EU should play a constructive role for the realization of Iran's four major goals, including maintaining the country’s nuclear technology, removal of bilateral and unilateral sanctions against Iran, abrogation of the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions against Iran, and taking Iran's nuclear case out of the Security Council. Constructive participation of the EU in this process and for the achievement of the goals of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) will provide the Union with strategic, economic, trade, energy, political, cultural, and civil opportunities in Iran's 80-million-strong market and will have a historical impact on the EU’s role in international arena. EU’s movement toward the realization of the aforesaid four goals and joint agenda setting with Iran will help this major international bloc to complete its historical mission in global arena.

Key Words: Iran Deal, Iran-EU Relations, Sanctions, EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, Atlanticism, Eurocentrism, Europhobia, Extremism, Terrorism, Khoshandam

More By Behzad Khoshandam:

*The Iran Deal and Iran-China Relations:

*The Iran Deal and the Choice of Reconciliatory Strategic Necessity:

*Iran and Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Reciprocal Strategies and Viewpoints:

*Photo Credit: Fararu