Nuclear Iran: Europe should get behind Trump


SOME apparently sensational multilateral agreements that at the time have been hailed to the rafters have turned out to be anything but epoch-making. Unfortunately the Middle East has been the subject of two of them. Where, more than a quarter of a century after the deal was signed, are the peace and justice promised the Palestinians in the Oslo Accord? Of no less pressing concern, where is the non-nuclear good neighbor Iran that was supposed to have been created four years ago in Obama’s much-heralded Geneva nuclear accord with Tehran?

There has been sound evidence that far from abandoning their nuclear weapons program, the ayatollahs have pressed on in secret. For reasons best known to themselves the inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) continued to sign off on Tehran’s compliance with the deal. Until this week that is. Now the IAEA has admitted that Iran is increasing its production of the enriched uranium necessary to build an nuclear warhead. However it claims that the amount being produced is within the limits set down in the Geneva Accord.

This revelation comes at a moment when Iran has set out to ratchet up tensions in the region. There seems little doubt the limpet mines that last month damaged four oil tankers, two of which belong to the Kingdom, were organized, if not actually carried out, by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. President Donald Trump has so far reacted robustly, upping the US military presence in and around the Gulf.

In the light of this response, it is interesting that Tehran has chosen this moment to released Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese businessman with permanent US-residence. Zakka, an IT expert was arrested in 2015 and charged with spying. The state-controlled Iranian media are saying that the release came about as a direct result of an appeal by Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah which acts in Syria as a military proxy for Iran. Is Washington supposed to feel grateful to these terrorists or is Tehran seeking to embarrass Trump? Either way, the ayatollahs clearly do not understand the man sitting in the Oval Office.

Tehran’s outrageous interference in the internal affairs of its Arab neighbors, in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon has long been clear. Yet the regime persists in playing a game of smoke and mirrors, in a pathetic attempt to hide it malign purposes.

Now that the IAEA has finally flagged up an increase in the Iranian nuclear program it is time for the other signatories to the Geneva Accord to review their position. China and Russia of course are entirely content with the Iran’s destabilizing behavior and are not about to pressure Tehran to sticking to its commitments. But it is an entirely different matter for the Europeans. Brussels has been seeking to frustrate Trump’s re-imposition of economic sanctions on Iran and has deplored his tearing up of Obama’s useless deal. The European attitude was clearly driven by commercial rather than geopolitical considerations. It is now time for Europe to get behind Washington and give up its opposition to Trump’s hard line. Tehran is intent on bringing yet more bloody chaos to its Arab neighbors. The longer European capitals try to fudge this issue, the greater the danger not simply to the region but to international peace.