MNA – Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director general for safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told Mehr News that the remaining participants of Iran nuclear deal will have”substantial difficulties in providing all technologies and equipment agreed.”
Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director general for safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told Mehr News that civil nuclear cooperation is an important element of the JCPOA.
Heinonen, now a senior adviser on science and non-proliferation at Foundation for Defense of Democracies, also believes that “I can see the remaining JCPOA participants will have substantial difficulties in providing all technologies and equipment agreed.”
Following is the text of the interview with him:
Some argue that the European Union laws cannot protect Iran against the impact of US sanctions. In other words, the law is just a new version of the “Blocking Statute” that the European Union approved in 1996 to protect Cuba against US sanctions. In your opinion, how effective is this law in protecting Iran against US sanctions?
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a nonproliferation agreement, but a complicated detailed political understanding crafted with the hope to solve some longstanding nonproliferation problems. As such, it has faced difficulties in weathering the changed political landscape, which has been further complicated by the numerous trade related actions of the US government particularly with its European and Asian partners.
The long anticipated US withdrawal from the JCPOA and the unwillingness of the parties until now to visit the well-known nonproliferation deficiencies has thrown the deal and its future implementation into unchartered territory.
European vision for trade is a free market with minimum control by the governments. In such an environment a government and even less the European Commission can force a company to continue trade relations with other partners if it is not in the interest of a company.
It is now important that the European Union provides credible assurances to Iran indicating what it really can deliver and not try build an unrealistic picture. So for example, civil nuclear cooperation is an important element of the JCPOA. I can see the remaining JCPOA participants will have substantial difficulties in providing all technologies and equipment agreed. Nuclear trade is global trade, and there is no one who can alone provide all necessary services, which often has direct or indirect US tie.
Back in 1996, without the Europe support, US imposed sanctions on Cuba, and Europe did not accept these sanctions. Can one say that Europe is still able to resist US sanctions against Iran?
The Blocking Statute was established to make trade possible with Cuba noting that as a trading partner Cuba is less important. Even with the fact that the US had in that instance not employed draconian measures in enforcing the sanctions regime, European companies were not overly willing to push hard for business dealings with Cuba.
In Europe, economic companies have the right and freedom to choose, and the EU also does not want to restrict this freedom. Can the EU push the companies to work with Iran? How can the EU force the companies to cooperate with Iran?
Though EU-3 and the Commission continue to advocate trade with Iran, companies, particularly those with global operations make their calculations based on their long-term interests. Though much of the focus is now on companies closing their operations in Iran, which will have tremendous impact on the lives of ordinary Iranians, there will continue to be additional constraints that will surface if the deficiencies of the nuclear deal and related elements are not addressed.
The way out is to address, among others, the ballistic missile program, verify the dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear weapons effort and agree on scope of a reasonable nuclear program without unnecessary uranium enrichment activities. It is simply not wise, in my view, to continue to pour Iranian funds to nuclear efforts without real economical or security benefit.
Interview by: Javad Heirannia