Iran can’t count on Europe: pro­fes­sor

Tehran Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Maryam Khor­maei

TEHRAN — Alexan­der Azade­gan, pro­fes­sor of global man­age­ment and in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal econ­omy from South Cal­i­for­nia Univer­sity, says “Iran can’t count on Europe.”

Geopo­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst also adds that “at the end of the day, Euro­pean ship sails in the same di­rec­tion as Wash­ing­ton. They seem to re­play­ing a good cop bad cop right now (Euro­pean be­ing the good cop, bad cop be­ing Trump).” Fol­low­ing is the full text of the in­ter­view:

Pres­i­dent Trump an­nounced that the re­moval of time lim­i­ta­tion of Iran’s nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties, un­re­stricted in­spec­tions to Ira­nian sites and putting Iran’s mis­sile pro­gram in the JCPOA are all nec­es­sary for the U.S. not to with­draw from the nu­clear agree­ment. Will Europe ac­cept the con­di­tions? What about Iran?

A: As you are aware we had a bit of a coup d’état in the past a few days with the fir­ing of Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son and the com­ing into power of John Bolton an old neo­con as the new Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor. We can pre­dict a lot of pat­terns that are de­vel­op­ing when it comes to JCPOA and Wash­ing­ton be­hav­ior in par­tic­u­larly Don­ald Trump’s be­hav­ior to­wards Iran. By rais­ing the threat of re­fus­ing to cer­tify Iran nu­clear deal, Trump’s il­log­i­cal and un­rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tions and de­mands such as re­mov­ing time lim­its on the nu­clear deal’s re­stric­tions which is be­lieved to last for nearly 10 years un­til 2025

(please don’t call me out on that but there is a lim­ited re­stric­tion be­cause this en­tire deal was based on dis­trust), then un­re­stricted in­spec­tion and also re­lat­ing this to the Ira­nian mis­sile de­ter­rence ca­pa­bil­ity are very very un­likely. You have to un­der­stand that the mis­sile de­ter­rence ca­pa­bil­ity is the ab­so­lute red line of Iran that should never be crossed.

You can­not ask a coun­try like Iran that is prac­ti­cally sur­rounded by en­e­mies on the south­ern borders, I mean oil reach dic­ta­tor­ships es­pe­cially the Saudi regime, to give away its de­ter­rence ca­pa­bil­ity. Such an ex­pec­ta­tion is il­log­i­cal and id­i­otic. Nev­er­the­less that is not go­ing to stop Trump from ex­press­ing it.

That’s since when that it has to not be ex­actly il­log­i­cal but to­tally out of line. The fir­ing of Rex Tiller­son the one who was a sup­porter of the JCPOA even though he is a repub­li­can and the com­ing of a pro-Is­raeli per­son like John Bolton who was part of the Project For The New Amer­i­can Cen­tury a think-tank which were the brains be­hind 9/11 and whose aim has al­ways been Iran.

My pre­dic­tion is that we are not go­ing to see any kind of co­op­er­a­tion from Wash­ing­ton and Trump is not go­ing to re­cer­tify JCPOA as he does ev­ery 120 days. But he is not go­ing to re­cer­tify this time in May. Is­rael’s chan­nel 10 which is the main Is­raeli chan­nel and the only one that is on the ca­ble line up in the North Amer­ica and Europe is al­ready pre­dict­ing that this time Trump is not go­ing to cer­tify the JCPOA.

Over the last 3 months, Euro­pean states made lots of ef­forts to con­vince the U.S. congress and ad­min­is­tra­tion that a bet­ter agree­ment with Iran can­not be pos­si­bly made on the ru­ins of the JCPOA. Will the EU and the U.S. congress be able to reach an agree­ment on the JCPOA that can meet Trump’s de­mands? What can such an agree­ment look like?

A: I have al­ways said that Iran can’t count on Europe. At the end of the day, Euro­pean ship sails in the same di­rec­tion as Wash­ing­ton. They seem to re­play­ing a good cop bad cop right now (Euro­pean be­ing the good cop, bad cop be­ing Trump). But ul­ti­mately at the end they are not go­ing to scar­i­fies Tril­lion dol­lar eco­nomic trans­ac­tional ac­tiv­i­ties over Iran which is a na­tion of only 80 mil­lion peo­ple.

I am go­ing to go over the size the ex­pen­di­ture when it comes to Ira­nian econ­omy. First and fore­most, 25 bil­lion dol­lars of goods are smug­gled il­le­gally to Iran ev­ery year. Of­fi­cial im­ports to Iran dur­ing past 11 years have tripled. 25 per­cent of this of­fi­cial im­port along with the en­tire 25 bil­lion dol­lars’ worth of im­ports smug­gled are con­sumer goods. Iran pur­chases 2 bil­lion dol­lars’ worth per year worth of smart phones. Iran is not the largest im­porter of cos­metic prod­ucts in the world, again around 2 bil­lion dol­lars per year. Iran also im­ports an­other 2 bil­lion dol­lars’ worth of lux­ury cars into the coun­try. 5 bil­lion dol­lars’ worth of house goods per year. Iran even im­ports food items such as fruits, veg­eta­bles, tea and rice which can be eas­ily pro­duced do­mes­ti­cally. Most of these im­ported prod­ucts can be do­mes­ti­cally pro­duced or man­u­fac­tured to save hun­dreds of thou­sands if not mil­lions of Ira­nian jobs. But the trend seems to be in this Key­ne­sian econ­omy the­ory that is im­ple­mented by the new lib­er­als in Iran and be­lieves in the com­par­a­tive ad­van­tage of good to ser­vices.

So we have that ironies pol­icy go­ing on at the cost of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Ira­nian jobs. The Euro­peans are very well aware of this sit­u­a­tion and pat­tern of Ira­nian elite pre­fer­ring for­eign prod­ucts rather than do­mes­tic prod­ucts. They are aware of that so it is seen as a grow­ing mar­ket for them in decades to come. Es­pe­cially the smaller Euro­pean na­tions that are strug­gling. I need to men­tion here that the JCPOA was not a Euro­pean-U.S. deal with Iran.

It was a deal that 3 Euro­pean na­tions (Ger­many, Britain and France) in­de­pen­dently signed with Iran along of course with Rus­sia, China and the U.S. For us, we put too much weight on the EU mech­a­nism es­pe­cially the lob­by­ing of the for­eign pol­icy chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini that we are miss­ing the whole point with that. Ger­many, Britain and France acted in­de­pen­dently no mat­ter how much Euro­peans at the level of Brus­sels and the Euro­pean in­sti­tu­tions are lob­by­ing for this be­cause at the end of the day it is do­ing to come down to the spe­cific coun­tries in the Europe.

Pres­i­dent Rouhani made a trip to Italy and France a few years ago and signed tens of bil­lion dol­lars’ worth of deal. But be­cause of U.S.’s very in­tri­cate and com­pli­cated of bank­ing trans­ac­tion and fi­nan­cial agree­ments, these deals have not been im­ple­mented. To­tal signed a multi-bil­lion dol­lar con­tract with Iran to fur­ther de­velop the South pars na­tional gas field but noth­ing hap­pened with that. Peu­geot also whose sec­ond mar­ket out­side of France is Iran in the whole world has not im­ple­mented the con­tracts that signed. The Ital­ians have made some con­tracts.

So far we can count a lit­tle more on our Ital­ian part­ners be­cause their econ­omy seems to be lag­ging fur­ther but Italy is not one of the sig­na­to­ries of the JCPOA. So we have to keep all these in­tri­cate things in mine when think­ing about this project.

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