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Why Europe’s “New” Iran Deal Isn’t Really New


French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday proposed negotiations on a “new” Iran deal aimed at curbing Iran’s military power and regional activities to exist alongside the JCPOA, agreed between the Islamic Republic and six world powers in 2015. U.S. President Trump has given European signatories to the deal a deadline of May 12 to “fix” the accord or face its collapse.

After months of a U.S.-led effort to make the Europeans fix the agreement on a hard deadline, the best Europe came up with was a rebranded, redecorated old agreement, sold to the Trump administration as a gesture of goodwill towards the U.S. position. The President should reject the fake “new” deal offered by Europe – which benefits Iran and Russia – and instead continue moving forward with imposing sanctions, using all available diplomatic and economic tools.

What Europe Says It Would Do

The French President said that while the JCPOA restricted Iran’s major nuclear activities until 2025, a new deal would go further, preventing Iran from stepping up its nuclear activity after the deal’s so-called sunset clauses expire, while also restricting the Islamic Republic’s development of ballistic activities, and containing Tehran’s aggressive expansionism in the Middle East.

• Macron: “We therefore wish, from now on, to work on a new deal with Iran…The first one (topic) is to block any nuclear activity of Iran until 2025. This was feasible thanks to the JCPOA.  The second is to make sure that, in the long run, there is no nuclear Iranian activity.  The third fundamental topic is to be able to put an end to the ballistic activities of Iran in the region.  And the fourth one is to generate the conditions for a solution — a political solution to contain Iran in the region — in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, and in Lebanon.”

With those remarks the President of France, and by extension the European Union, are conceding that what President Obama and proponents of the nuclear agreement promised in 2015 was false.

• Obama: “After two years of negotiations, we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb. It contains the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program.”

What Europe Is Really Doing

The “new” Iran deal proposed by the Europeans is not a fix to the JCPOA. It is the JCPOA plus a few additional constraints placed on Iran, which do not address the major flaws of the original nuclear accord.

Europe is not explicitly supporting the elimination of the 2025 sunset clauses, which allows Iran to emerge as a nuclear threshold state with an industrial-size enrichment program and close to zero-breakout time in little more than a decade.

The Europeans reject the implementation of powerful sanctions against Iran in relations to its ballistic missiles program and support sanctions only in the event of the testing of long-range missiles – a technology the Iranians don’t have. Missiles that can target the entire State of Israel, key allies such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, as well as U.S. military installations in the Middle East, would not fall under a robust sanctions regime.

European countries don’t want to restrict the lucrative business relationships they have established with the Islamic Republic since the ratification of the JCPOA. Germany is Iran’s largest and most important EU trade partner. German exports to Iran increased in 2017 by 19%, amounting to just under €2.4 billion in export volume. However, without a rigid sanctions regime the cash flow to Tehran will continue and exacerbate Iran’s illicit nuclear and non-nuclear activity.

What a New Deal Needs to Look Like

The proposed European “fixes” fail to address key components necessary to adequately fix the major flaws of the agreement: the sunset clauses, ballistic missiles, research and development on advanced centrifuges, verification mechanisms, and the sanctions windfall from the JCPOA.

Sunset Clauses:

• The sunset clauses, the most fatal flaw of the JCPOA, must be completely eliminated. Instead of dismantling Iran’s nuclear program, the sunset clauses put it under international protection for 15 years. It equips the Iranians with a patient pathway to achieve its goal.

• The regime in Tehran knows that by following the terms of the JCPOA, Iran will emerge as a nuclear threshold state with an industrial-size enrichment program and close to zero-breakout time in little more than a decade.

Ballistic missiles:

• Any fix that does not fully ban ballistic missiles is a failure. Congress and the Israelis both agree on this. The only acceptable fix to the Iran deal is one that prohibits all nuclear capable ballistic missiles, a policy enshrined in UN Security Council Resolution 2231 which codified the JCPOA.

• Paragraph 3 of Annex B calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology. 

Research and Development:

• The deal proposed by the Europeans offers no solution to stop Iran’s research and development on advanced nuclear centrifuges. The centrifuge replacement clause allows Iran, once it has replaced the old centrifuges with the more advanced ones, to rush toward the bomb.

• The JCPOA states that Iran’s breakout time is one year, however, were Iran to replace its less-efficient, first generation IR-1 centrifuges with more powerful IR-8s, Tehran could enrich uranium for a weapon much faster.


• The verification procedures to ensure Iran’s compliance are deeply flawed. Iran can hold international inspectors at arm’s length for at least 24 days, and likely even for a period of three months or longer before some of the nuclear sites can be inspected. This would allow Iran to clean up small facilities where the country engages in weaponized activities.

• In 2003, the Iranians delayed access to the Kalaye Electric Company for two weeks and completely scrubbed it. The same happened at the Lashkar Abad laser uranium enrichment plant.

• IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano confirmed that the nuclear watchdog has been unable to verify that Iran is implementing Section T of the nuclear agreement, based on Iran’s refusal to provide adequate information and access.

• IAEA officials say they won’t even ask for access because they know Iran would say “no” and it would give the Trump administration an “excuse” on the deal.

• Effectively, it means that we can’t be sure that they are not designing a bomb, the crux of the nuclear agreement.

• In addition, condition 1 of Corker-Cardin requires the president to certify Iran has implemented all parts of the agreement, not that Iran hasn’t been caught cheating on the parts they have implemented. Second, the IAEA hasn’t caught Iran cheating because they haven’t been able to look where Iran is cheating.

Stop the cash flow:

• A fix is not a fix if it results in the Iranian regime receiving billions in cash to bankroll proliferation, sponsor terrorism and finance the country’s aggressive regional expansionism.

• The U.S. can reimpose sanctions to any Iranian entity — including the Central Bank of Iran, which ensures the regime has the resources to commit atrocities, and the Supreme Leader’s own personal business empire EIKO — if it is connected to terrorism or non-nuclear activities such as ballistic missile development. This is a consensus view in the U.S., shared by both Democrats and Republicans.

• If the U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran, our allies will follow. U.S. sanctions would force European banks and companies to choose between America’s $19 trillion financial system over Iran’s $400 billion economy.

The Bottom Line

This “new” Iran deal being peddled by the EU does not begin to address the fatal flaws of the JCPOA, does nothing to contain Iran’s sponsoring of terrorism, regional ambitions and, as the Free Beacon reports, “would leave Israel, America’s Arab allies, and U.S. military based vulnerable to Iranian ballistic missiles.”

Joshua S. Block, CEO and President of The Israel Project, said, “We know that the mullah regime already has the capability to strike targets up to 1,240 miles from Iran’s borders—a range sufficient to hit the State of Israel, our Arab allies across the region, every U.S. military installation and American soldier in the region, and even parts of Europe.” Block continued, “America must continue to demand real fixes to the existing flaws and a deal that permanently prevents Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons capability.”

[Photo: Washington Post / YouTube ]