Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron held a two-hour phone conversation on Saturday. The pair discussed regional and international developments including food security and energy security as well as ways to boost bilateral cooperation.
Even though the conversation covered a broad range of issues, the most important subject can arguably be considered Iran’s nuclear negotiations with the P4+1 group of countries on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
According to the Elysee, Macron urged Raeisi to make a “clear choice” to reach an agreement on the JCPOA restoration. Expressing his disappointment at the lack of progress over talks, the French president maintained that a deal on the JCPOA is still possible but it should take place "as soon as possible".
On the other hand, Raeisi reiterated that Iran demands a full resolution of safeguard issues as well as necessary guarantees, including continued valid adherence of all JCPOA parties to the agreement and the provision of the economic interests of the Iranian nation.
While negotiations on the JCPOA revival were taking place, the International Atomic Energy Agency took a “crisis-making measure” by adopting a resolution against Iran drafted by the U.S. and the three European parties to the deal, France, Britain and Germany. As such, Raeisi added that the measure undermined political trust.
Addressing the significant increase in political and economic cooperation between Iran and different countries, Raeisi described U.S. sanctions against Iran as detrimental to the global economy, especially for Europe.
He also pointed out Iran’s security-building role in the region, especially in the fight against terrorism. The president stressed that if it were not for Iran’s efforts, Daesh terrorists would have declared a caliphate in Europe.
Macron highlighted the significance of Iran’s role in bringing political processes to fruition in the region. “France supports Iran's opposition to foreign military strikes against Syria”. He also emphasized the continuation of France’s role in reaching a conclusion in the nuclear negotiations.
The importance of the phone conversation between Raeisi and Macron and the French president’s hopes for achieving an agreement in the nuclear talks lies in the fact that Europeans have come to the conclusion that protracted negotiations and the possible collapse of the negotiations work to their detriment.
Tehran does not have a good memory of Europeans’ response to U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA under Trump as they, like Washington, did not fulfilled any of their commitments under the deal and failed to guarantee Tehran’s interests within the framework of the pact.
After a new administration took office in the U.S., it was expected that both Washington and the European JCPOA parties would seek to redress their mistakes. Moreover, despite its deep dissatisfaction with the United States and Europe, Tehran did not pull out of the JCPOA and consented to take part in the Vienna talks and hold indirect negotiations with Washington.
However, more than a year into the talks, the Biden administration is still continuing the path of its predecessor despite pledges of change.
Perhaps, the Americans hoped that the protraction of the talks and continuation of the sanctions would force Iran into retreating from its legal and rightful positions and acquiescing into giving concessions.
However, with the continuation of the war in Ukraine, it appears as if the sanguine analyses of the United States and Europeans have not proved to be any close to the reality on the ground. The Raeisi administration has managed to, through pursuing balanced and active foreign policy, expand its economic cooperation with other states. As Raeisi reminded Macron, Europe is the side to which the sanctions on Iran are most detrimental.
European countries are currently facing a severe energy shortage and an unprecedented inflation and are very concerned about the continuation of the war in Ukraine until winter. This comes as, a nuclear agreement with Iran and the subsequent injection of its oil and gas into global markets can help assuage the world’s energy concerns. The Europeans’ need for Iran’s return to global markets is not solely limited to the energy sector. They also require Iran to be able to have an active presence in the Middle East. In addition, Iran’s positive role in fighting drug trafficking and terrorism in the region has proved to be a strong obstacle to the transit of narcotics to Europe and spread of terrorism there.
Therefore, Tehran expects the three European JCPOA parties to think over their strategies and, instead of the Islamic Republic, direct their criticisms and pressure toward the United States. Europeans’ passive compliance with U.S. policies with regard to the JCPOA is a failed strategy. Now one should wait and see if Macron would transfer Tehran’s logical expectations to his European counterparts. A cold winter is only a few months away, a fact that may help the Europeans understand that it was the United States that withdrew from the nuclear deal, not Iran.