Europe must defuse the Iranian nuclear bomb project
The resolution adopted by the overwhelming majority of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors on June 8 put an end to a chapter that was long overdue. Three years after President Donald Trump ditched the 2015 nuclear deal and more than 16 months after a new candid transatlantic effort was initiated to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Tehran proved itself untrustworthy and is rapidly taking more steps to bury hopes for any agreement with this regime.
During eight rounds of Vienna Talks, the United States and the European trio came up with the most delicate set of concessions, and IAEA chief Rafael Grossi traveled thousands of miles to give diplomacy a chance.
But in practice, Tehran kept throwing wrenches at the negotiating table by insisting on demands it knew could never be met. It also failed to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear watchdog and violated an official Joint Statement that was agreed between vice president of Iran, also the president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Mohammad Eslami, and the IAEA director general.
Conceitedly certain that its ties with Russian and China will protect it from a United Nations Security Council resolution, Iran's regime continues to be defiant and announced that it has removed 27 IAEA surveillance cameras at its sites while installing two new IR6 cascades at its underground Natanz nuclear facility. Taking these steps, coupled with the Iranian regime president Ebrahim Raisi's denouncing the BoG resolution, the clerical dictatorship is testing the waters. Choosing the fate of Kim Jong-il over Moammar Gaddafi's, the regime's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, will certainly take more steps if his regime remains unpunished for the path taken.
But Tehran is making a big mistake. The stakes for China and Russia are much higher than a UNSC resolution.
There is now major bipartisan resolve in the U.S., a transatlantic consensus in the West, and a pervasive coalition in the Middle East that wants to make sure that this regime will never acquire a nuclear weapon.
Russia, the veto power that Tehran is mainly betting upon, is heavily sanctioned by the West because of the Ukraine invasion and has now become the regime's main rival competing for the global energy market, even China's. Moscow might be willing to challenge the West on many fronts, but not when it's risking more sanctions for a southern neighbor strolling on the nuclear threshold.
China has become a major player in Iran's market, but Beijing is definitely more in need of Iran's Middle Eastern adversaries than it needs Tehran. Saudi Arabia is even willing to sell oil to China in yuans, and the trade value of the European Union with China in 2021 was about 700 billion euros, compared to the Iran-China trade, worth $14.8B in the same year.
If the world decides to end the two-decades-long cat-and-mouse game with Tehran and hold the mullahs to account for their nuclear belligerence that is mounted on top of a global terror network, there are 80 million Iranians supporting the move. The total cost of the regime's nuclear project and secret facilities, first exposed by the Iranian Resistance, has reached about $2 trillion, which is one of the most important causes of the terrible poverty ailing and failing the Iranian people.
According to the Washington-based Arms Control Association, "the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that was drafted to ensure that no veto-wielding Security Council member could block the re-imposition of sanctions, grants named JCPOA participants the right to call for a resolution to continue the lifting of sanctions on Iran which could subsequently be vetoed by the United States, France, Russia, China, or the United Kingdom. Resolution 2231 still names the United States as a participant because the text was never amended to reflect U.S. withdrawal from the deal in May 2018."
Europe has now a historic role to play. Whether it decides to yield to indecision or collects the will to rise to the occasion will matter today as it will for generations to come. If an axis of tyrants wants to render and extort the United Nations useless, it takes an allied free world to get it back where it belongs.
Jim Higgins is an Irish former Fine Gael politician. He served as a member of Seanad Éireann, Dáil Éireann, and was an EPP member of the European Parliament for the North-West constituency from 2004 to 2014.