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Onus on EU to save Iran nuclear deal

26th Jul 2019
Onus on EU to save Iran nuclear deal

Secretary Kerry posed with his fellow EU, P5+1, and Iranian counterparts at the Austria Centre in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2015 (Photo: US Dept of State/Flickr Commons)

Foreign Secretary and Tory leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt insists that there is a “small window” of opportunity to save the Iran nuclear deal following the unilateral withdrawal by the US on May 2018.

But it is hardly possible for the UK to be an honest broker in the dispute when Royal Marines are dispatched from Britain to seize an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar. The reason provided by the UK military was that this seizure was to uphold EU sanctions against Syria but this rationale fell apart, as Spain let it be known it was carried out at the behest of the US.

Britain’s record in dealing with Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution is not much better than the US though it has managed to maintain relations most of the time during 40 turbulent years.

Perhaps it is just as well that Hunt may have little influence on British policy if he fails to defeat Boris Johnson in becoming the next prime minister, especially after the rather belligerent tone he has adopted towards Iran. Hunt even suggested that he may send forces to support the Americans in the Persian Gulf. However, we have to recognise that diplomacy is unlikely to improve under his rival with a real chance it could be the opposite.

The offer to release the seized tanker may, unfortunately, have come too late after the Foreign Secretary seemingly has realised the blunder. After following the US into such disastrous conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, one would have thought that the UK has learned some lessons. Such a cantankerous president in Washington makes the situation much more dangerous and foolhardy.

With possibly only months left of Britain remaining in the EU, the window of opportunity is indeed very small. It is perhaps the last chance that the Government has of acting in unison with its current 27 partners in the bloc.

Britain along with France and Germany were founding members in laboriously negotiating the nuclear deal over the past decade and more. It cannot just let the deal flounder at the whim of the President of the United States. If ever there was a time, the onus is on the EU to stand up to US bullying to save the historic accord. It is to no one’s advantage to allow the deal to collapse. The UK will have more than enough other issues to sort from Brexit.

 

 

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