France and the ’Red Line’ on Iran: the art of hypocrisy

Iranian Diplomacy | Kaveh L. Afrasiabi: Following Iran’s decision to accelerate its uranium enrichment process “within the JCPOA,” although the European Union has admitted that this does not violate the nuclear agreement, nonetheless the French officials  including the foreign minister have raised false alarms that Iran is close to crossing “the red line.”  Indeed, this is the art of French hypocrisy that they have failed to take the slightest concrete action, particularly at the UN, with respect to US’s blatant violation of the JCPOA, limiting themselves to vacuous statements of regret, while reiterating that they share US’s concerns about Iran’s ballistic missiles and, at the same time, throwing a red carpet for Israel’s Prime Minister despite the latter’s outrageous criminal conduct against the Palestinians in Gaza recently.  Obviously, for Macron and his administration, Netanyahu did not cross any ‘red lines’ and. in fact, he was warmly greeted as a close friend.

Sadly, such is the state of French, and indeed, European hypocrisy that one month after Trump’s illegal and illegitimate exit from the JCPOA and re-imposition of Iran nuclear sanctions, all Europe has done is verbal pledge to preserve the JCPOA, which stand in sharp contrast to the mass exodus of European firms from Iran.  A feeble attempt to protect the European firms doing business in Iran, by invoking the Blocking Statute, is bound to prove a remedy too late and by the time that law is devised there will hardly be any European firms left in Iran to protect.  This is not to mention the Statutue’s hidden clause that lets the individual countries to comply with the US sanctions if they feel it hurts their interests too much.

But, the biggest problem with the current French discourse on Iran is that it conveniently overlooks that after US’s departure and the re-imposition of sanctions hitting Iran’s economy like a major earthquake or tsunami, it is patently absurd to hold Iran accountable to any ‘red lines’ and thus ignore that Iran is now fully within its rights to reciprocate by suspending its JCPOA obligations in full or in parts.  In other words, any such action by Iran can no longer be viewed as a “violation” of the JCPOA by virtue of the simple fact that a major signatory to it has breached its obligations and gotten away with it without facing any dire consequences.  Therefore, the implicit threat in the French warning above-mentioned is quite preposterous and a tissue of well-known French hypocrisy and double standard.

Perhaps some of Iran’s officials, such as Dr Salehi the head of Iran’s atomic organization, have unwittingly aided the other side by their insistence that Iran’s nuclear moves are not a “violation” of the JCPOA. Such assurances by Iran is neither necessary nor in line with the requirement of a strong Iranian response and retaliation against the other side’s unlawful and unilateral total disregard for their JCPOA obligations.  Nothing Iran would do since Trump’s May 8th announcement would, technically and legaly speaking, amount to a “violation” of the JCPOA since for all practical purposes the US had thrown the agreement to the dustbin.  One can only violate an agreement when it is mutually respected and it is the height of duplicity on France’s part to express concerns about Iran’s limited nuclear initiative when, logically speaking, Iran is fully within its rights to tear up the JCPOA and suspend all its obligations until Europe fulfills the 6 reasonable and legal conditions set by the Supreme Leader.

Yet, instead of displaying a token of equal treatment, the uncalled for criticism of Iran by France aforementioned is yet another confirmation of why Europe cannot be trusted.  Maybe their intention is to seek Iran’s full compliance with the JCPOA with only nominal and verbal assurances that fly in the face of a grim reality — that Iran is now harmed in the volume of tens of billions of dollars of lost business opportunities as a result of the US’s hostile action and Europe’s inaction.  As a result, the proper response by Iran to such outrageous warnings by France and others is none other than to take additional measures such as suspending all the JCPOA nuclear inspections pending the satisfaction of Iran’s demands from Europe.  Such an initiative is absolutely called for and necessary, will no doubt lead to more laments and screams and threats by (feckless) Europeans whose own behavior emboldened Trump to his unlawful decision to breach a legally binding international agreement, but it will also jolt them to the reality that Iran cannot possibly be duped to follow their scripts that bespeak of utmost hypocrisy.