Contrary to the rising hopes for a multilateral approach towards the Iran deal, Iranian regime reinitiated 20% uranium enrichment in 2021. Iran also started the production of uranium metal as his latest violation from the nuclear deal. Moreover, Iranian minister of foreign affairs, Javad Zarif, emphasized once more that Iran has no motive to stop enrichment unless the US lifts all sanctions. Furthermore, he threatened to expel IAEA inspectors in early March, if the US does not return to JCPOA until the end of February.
Because of the increasing threats from the Iranian regime, EU countries are more worried about recent progress than the US. In his last statement, Emmanuel Macron stated that the EU is looking for a durable agreement including the Iranian regime ballistic missiles program and its regional influence. He also affirmed that EU allies in the region, Saudi Arabia, should be involved in the future negotiations.
In addition to the nuclear agreement, the EU has serious concerns about the Iranian regime terrorist activities on EU soil. Since the arrest of the Iranian diplomat, Assadullah Asadi, for plotting a massive terrorist attack on the Iranian opposition rally, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in Paris in June 2018, the EU security forces achieved a mountain of evidence about Iranian regime threats regarding EU residents and security. Additionally, the new information about Assadi’s trips and network of mercenaries and sleeping cells across Europe is a major security concern for the EU that does not allow EU leaders to shut their eyes on wider threats of the Iranian regime.
The Iranian regime’s international threats are important subjects, but any negotiation on these issues without pointing out the domestic suppression and human rights violations in Iran cannot live long. According to Amnesty International Iranian regime executed 28 prisoners in the first months of 2021. Just 8 executions were performed in the past week. Javid Dehghan, a Baloch political prisoner was executed on January 30, 2021 despite domestic and International outrage. Thousands of protesters of November 2019 are still in detention, and many are on death row. Increasing numbers of protests because of financial problems and high inflation rates, besides a national outrage about the Iranian regime’s decision to ban the coronavirus vaccine represent a turbulent society in Iran that can flip the table in a blink.
In conclusion, the EU and the US might share the same interests about negotiations with Iran especially after the new US administration, but due to the geopolitical situation the Iranian regime dossier has higher priority for the EU than the US now. Hence, the outcome of Antwerp terror trial provides the leverage for the EU to confront the Iranian regime as the founder of the international terrorism with heavy concequences for its leaders and mercenaries around the globe which cannot be undermined. Otherwise, the Iranian regime threats will knock the door of the EU.
Ali Bagheri is an energy engineer, PhD from University of Mons, Belgium. He is an Iranian activist and an advocate for human rights and democracy in Iran.