No Euro-Atlantic consensus on Iran prior to key Vienna conference

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the Nato Foreign Ministers Council at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 27 April 2018. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

No Euro-Atlantic consensus on Iran prior to key Vienna conference


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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed his confidence on Tuesday that Washington will secure a European consensus over sanctions on Iran; on Wednesday, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reiterated that France will not back Washington.

“I’m confident that there is a set of overlapping values and interests here that will drive us to the same conclusion about the need to respond to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s threats to the world,” Pompeo told Reuters.

On Monday Pompeo criticized the Obama administration for signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and threatened “the strongest sanctions in history,” warning that this is “just the beginning.”

Europe is keeping its distance from Washington.

“These sanctions which set up against Iran will not enable dialogue and on the contrary it will reinforce the conservatives and weaken President Rouhani, threatening to destabilise the region,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio. Drian made clear that France remains committed to the nuclear deal, although he agreed that both Iran’s ballistic missile activity and its regional hegemonic ambitions must be tamed.

France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China are due to meet in Vienna with Iran on Friday. The focus of the meeting in Vienna will be how to proceed with the 2015 agreement, without Washington.

The German press reports that EU officials are exploring the possibility of widening the scope of the 2015 deal to include Iran’s missile programme. These claims were dismissed on Tuesday by Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Qasemi, as “irrelevant,” while EU sources dismissed reports of the treaty’s substantial review.

Meanwhile, hardliners in Iran have been emboldened. On Wednesday, General Mohammad Bagheri told Iran’s news agency (IRNA) that the development of the Islamic Republic’s defence capabilities is not subject to “the permission or approval of any power.”

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