Iran security considerations should be taken into account: US analyst

IRNA – Europe and the US’s selling arms in the region doesn’t help the Western Asia, only an approach that considers the security concerns of Iran will be successful, said Policy Fellow at National Iranian American Council.

‘I have serious doubts that concessions on pressure outside the nuclear accord will be sufficient to preserve the nuclear accord itself,’ Ryan Costello told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Answering a question regarding US Secretary of State Tillerson’s announcement of formation of “working committees” consisting of US, France, England, and Germany, to discuss Iran (nuclear and non-nuclear) issues, Costello said, ‘Europe’s current approach appears to be that if the US sticks to the nuclear deal, it could work with the US to address additional areas outside the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), such as Iran’s missile program. At this time, it does not appear that Europe is willing to re-open or modify the agreement itself.’

Saying that the French and other European states had concerns on the missile program and regional security prior to the Trump administration’s threats to cancel the accord, he said, ‘President Trump did not need to threaten to cancel the accord in order to get Europe to start discussing additional security priorities with regard to Iran – this could have been accomplished through typical diplomatic channels.’

‘However, I have serious doubts that concessions on pressure outside the nuclear accord will be sufficient to preserve the nuclear accord itself. If European nations are seriously considering meeting Trump part way on his demands, they should carefully consider how to ensure that they extract a tangible commitment from the Trump administration on deal implementation for longer than a few months. Otherwise, their concessions may be in vain.’

To a question about Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi’s remarks regarding Iran’s defensive missile program and the race between Europe and the United States to sell arms in the Middle East, he said, ‘Neither regional arms sales from the West nor Iran’s missile testing have contributed positively to regional security. The United States and other nations should recognize that providing weaponry to Iran’s rivals is likely to make Iran more reliant on the missile program that they view as a security threat. However, it is also a mistake to ignore the security concerns that Iran’s missile program has triggered among its regional rivals. When Iran engages in missile tests, it makes it easier for JCPOA opponents to ratchet up pressure that undermines the accord.’

Qasemi said on Thursday that Iran’s missile capability is not a threat; rather, the real threat is the arms sales race between the US and Europe in the region, adding that Iran will not allow others to undermine its defensive and deterrent capabilities, while arming other countries in the region with deadly weapons.

Iran has repeatedly said that it does not have long range intercontinental ballistic missiles and its ballistic missiles are not designed for carrying nuclear heads. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says that “Iran hasn’t attacked any country in 250 years. But when Saddam rained missiles on us…, no one helped us”.

Addressing Iranian security concerns in the region, Costello said, ‘In the US and around the region, many remain concerned that Iran could make modifications to its missile program to serve as a delivery vehicle for nuclear weapons in the event that the agreement collapses or Iran breaks its commitments. That is a major reason why Iranian missile tests continue to provoke angst in Washington, even if the missiles themselves are designed to be conventional and can’t reach beyond the region.’

‘Any sustainable approach in the region will need to address the security concerns of all nations, including Iran. There needs to be greater commitment from all parties, including the US and Iran, to serious multilateral diplomacy. Negotiations resolved the nuclear dispute, and can help reduce concerns regarding missiles and stabilize the situation in Syria and Yemen.’

Regarding France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Belgium’s measures to keep their trade and companies cooperating with Iran outside the reach of U.S. sanctions, Costello said, ‘The quid pro quo of the JCPOA was sanctions relief for nuclear concessions, so any effort to ensure that Iran is able to receive the benefit of its bargain strengthens the accord and helps to incentivize further negotiations.’