He made the remarks in the 22nd European Forum on Friday in Vienna, Austria. Former Iranian FM mainly talked about JCPOA, US withdrawal from the international pact and Iran-EU relations after US unilateral sanctions.
The following is the full text of Dr. Kamal Kharrazi’s speech themed, “EU, Iran, and US Sanctions”:
Ladies and Gentlemen!
I am pleased to be here attending this forum at the invitation of the chairman of the meeting, Dr. Werner Fasslabend. While thanking Mr. Chairman for the invitation, my statement will focus on the US withdrawal from Iran Nuclear Agreement and the issues Iran and Europe are faced with.
As you know, in 2003, when I was still in charge of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, we began negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program with the EU Trio: UK, Germany, and France, which resulted in the suspension of Iran’s enrichment activities before reaching a deal acceptable by both sides. These talks failed due to the avarice of the other parties and as a result, Iran resumed its nuclear activities and achieved significant progress. These technological advances, which were the outcome of the unwarranted position of the other sides and behind-the-scene pressures of the United States, made everyone realize that Iran’s nuclear capability had to be admitted as an irrevocable reality.
With the change of government in the United States, this time, the Democratic administration, with the mediation of the Sultanate of Oman, voiced a strong desire to engage in serious negotiations with Iran. Despite the deep distrust that existed in Iran towards Washington’s political behavior, due to the assurances which were given by the government of Oman that Iran’s rights would be safeguarded, the talks started with the participation of other world powers, including the European Union, France, Germany, UK, China, and Russia. The partnership was aimed at reaching an agreement that would be endorsed by all the world powers and the other side of the negotiations, namely, Iran.
In any case, with the intensive negotiations that lasted for nearly two years, an international agreement was reached that almost all negotiating parties were happy with. In practice, however, the other parties, notably the US government, did not fulfill their obligations stipulated in the deal, and the result was a failure to meet Iran’s expectations from this agreement, namely development of European financial and trade relations with Iran.
However, with the start of the election campaign in the United States, presidential hopeful Donald Trump announced from the outset of his campaign that he would come out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. After the elections, he practically increased pressure on the European banks and companies to refrain from any kind of cooperation with Iran. Eventually, the US government made its decision on withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that had been endorsed by UN Security Council under Resolution 2231. This occurred despite the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had repeatedly verified Iran’s compliance with the agreement.
By withdrawing from the nuclear deal, the US government not only increased its outrageous sanctions against Iran but also escalated its overt and covert threats against European and non-European banks and companies and Iran’s partner states in an attempt to cripple the Iranian economy. Washington claims that the sanctions target the Iranian ruling establishment and not the people. But clearly sanctions harm the people because the people are in short supply for their needs, including medicines and medical equipment, and it is the patients, children and the elderly who suffer the most. Of course, experience has shown that the sanctions do not have the required effect and will not achieve the goals of those who impose sanctions and their supporters.
The sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran before the nuclear deal shifted the 80 million Iranian market from Europe, the first trading partner of Iran, towards the East, especially China. The EU, while losing the economic benefits of the Iran market was turned to its low-rank partner. The JCPOA provided a renewed opportunity for Europe to compensate some of the damage it had inflicted in the course of the sanctions. Nonetheless, the barricades created by America prevented Europe from making good use of the economic and political opportunities of the JCPOA.
Despite all the breach of promise by the United States, the Islamic Republic of Iran decided to continue compliance with the JCPOA and through close and effective cooperation with the European Union and other partners outside the JCPOA did not allow the crisis to escalate. The United States intended to mobilize the international community against Iran, under the wrong assumption that if it withdrew from the JCPOA the Islamic Republic of Iran would follow suit.
We are pleased to see the subversive goal of the US administration collapsing thanks to the insight of Iranian officials and prudence of European states and their lack of cooperation with the US breach of law and creation of new mechanisms for cooperation with Iran. Of course, unfortunately, the pace of various mechanisms that are being developed by the European Union is slow but essential to implement as quickly as possible for the following reasons.
Considering that our meeting today is about European security, I will take a look at the security issues the death of the JCPOA could cause.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
It is true that the new mechanisms of European cooperation with Iran are in place to help implement the provisions of the nuclear deal with Iran, but one should look at this European action with a strategic and security approach so that if not realized there would be problems with abundant losses: First in the Middle East and Europe, and then in the world.
Here I would like to mention some of these issues:
1. The current US government, unlike the previous administrations, considers globalization of the economy against its own interests. Therefore, it would fight against all the structures that are not in line with this thinking, including the European Union. They are basically opposed to an agreement such as the JCPOA that has been formed through the consultation and coordination of all the major world powers with Iran. Instead, they believe that this deal should be reached bilaterally between the United States and Iran. Naturally, they are pursuing their political and economic interests in bilateral agreements and others should be dismissed.
2. Given the end of the Cold War and the American perception of Europe as a rival, as Trump in an interview described Europe an enemy, Europe’s interests and security today are meaningless or at least a priority. Therefore, the events that are taking place in the Middle East and the future consequences, which will undoubtedly have security implications for Europe as well, will have no impact on America but Washington will take advantage of it for its own benefit.
3. Obviously, the nuclear deal with Iran would not have taken place without the cooperation of Europe. In fact, the defeat of this agreement will be tantamount to a loss of credibility for Europe. Today’s American establishment does not want others to play a role in resolving regional and global issues, because partnership would make no sense for a powerful country pursuing unilateralism. Today, all the political and economic movements of the United States are in the direction of realizing unilateralism. In this regard, one of the goals of the United States is the weakening of the European Union.
4. Destabilization of the Middle East region is imperative for the American administration and it pursues countless monopolistic material benefits from this instability. For the United States, it is not important how much damage is inflicted on the people and the economies of the region and the security of its surroundings including Europe. As a result, the US government is doing its utmost to strengthen the radical parties in Israel and undermine the Palestinians. They are raising schemes with the help of Israeli hardliners and through threats of certain Arab countries that will have no result but confrontation, instability, and insecurity. We will soon see the Palestinian issue become the most important security matter in the Middle East due to these imprudent measures. On the other hand, the United States is trying to foment differences between Iran and certain Arab states in the Middle East, especially in the Persian Gulf, because the priority of the US administration is to create conflicts and gain material benefits in an atmosphere of Iranophobia. This is to the extent that certain states in the southern Persian Gulf have become slaves in the hands of the US due to the policies of inexperienced young rulers. For example, concerning the war in Yemen, the United States despite the readiness of the Houthis to hold negotiations, not only did not take any action to this effect but also based on authentic information is interfering in this war directly and indirectly.
5. By withdrawing from the nuclear deal and ignoring international laws, `and in particular the UN Security Council resolution, the United States has no goal other than regime change in Iran and turning it into a country similar to some of the Arab states in the southern Persian Gulf. Of course, this line of thinking is due to lack of recognition of the US administration of the people and government of Iran. The Iranian people will show stronger resistance in the face of unjust and illegal pressures. Iran’s history has shown that the Iranians will never compromise on their independence, and will stand up to foreign intervention and domination at any cost.
Undoubtedly, the complete collapse of the JCPOA and Iran’s exit from the deal would have very dangerous consequences. Therefore, European cooperation with Iran and realization of Iran’s rights in compliance with the JCPOA is vital. If the United States succeeds in completely eliminating the nuclear deal, it will impose uncertainty on the region. Naturally, this instability will not be limited to the geography of Iran, but will also affect the countries around Iran, and this will create unpredictable security risks for Europe.
Today you are facing governments in the Middle East which are the main cause of the spread of terrorism, war, and bloodshed in this region. Those who supported the ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra and committed heinous crimes in Iraq and Syria today again brutally murder opponent citizen Jamal Khashoggi and slaughter women and children in Yemen on a daily basis. With regard to what was said above and considering Iran’s stabilizing role in the fight against terrorism, the cooperation of Iran and Europe in this sensitive region is urgent and any delay in this respect would be unforgivable.
Iran is an island of stability in this turbulent region and instability in Iran would lead to instability of the region around it. We should also realize the strategic goals of the United States in violating international laws and accords, including the JCPOA. The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to cooperate with the European Union in line with the implementation of the JCPOA and development of stability in this sensitive region, provided that the European Union takes solid and decisive steps in keeping with the interests of Iran.
Thank You for Your Patience!