Why Are Leading European Countries Helping Iran?
In an extraordinarily blunt speech at the US-hosted Middle East conference in Poland, Vice President Mike Pence lashed out at some of America’s closest allies for shielding the doomed 2015 nuclear accord with Iran. Pence accused France, Germany, and the United Kingdom of launching a new financial mechanism in the hope of evading biting US sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The European Union provided a much-needed financial lifeline to the regime in Tehran when it set up the so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SVP) in January — a barter system that allows Europe and Iran to trade goods and forgo the use of currency. The mechanism, Pence charged, is “an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU, and create still more distance between Europe and the United States.”
Pence is correct in his premise. The European Union’s shameful conduct undermines bipartisan US efforts to hold Iran accountable for its illicit nuclear and non-nuclear activities. It’s also a massive slap in the face to ordinary Iranians, who want to live in peace and dignity.
Last week, Iran celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. But there’s nothing to celebrate about a regime that has plunged an entire country into darkness. Forty years later, the Iranian people are still fighting the same tyrants that deny them basic human rights. The claim of moderation is nothing but an illusion for this medieval regime.
The Paris-based watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) recently revealed that Iran arrested, imprisoned, or executed at least 860 journalists in the three decades between the 1979 revolution and 2009, according to leaked Iranian justice department documents. In addition, tens of thousands of Iranian citizens — including minorities, opposition members, journalists, and individuals accused of non-political crimes — have been illegally detained, tortured, or executed by the regime.
In the struggle for fundamental freedom, one would expect the European Union — an institution founded on the principles of liberty and democracy — to stand in solidarity with the Iranian people against their oppressors. Instead, Europe has so far sent the opposite message.
Lured by lucrative trade deals with Iran, policymakers across Europe’s capitals have turned a blind eye to the suffering of peaceful Iranians who are lingering in prison or have ended up in unmarked graves.
Over the last few months alone, Iran has made headlines in the Western, Israeli, and Arab press for its use of terrorism. Whether reporting on Tehran’s assassinations of political opponents on foreign soil, terror plots in Europe, the fighters and ammunitions it sent to Syria, or inference in Yemen’s brutal civil war, Iran’s behavior just keeps getting worse.
These headlines bear witness to the fact that the Islamic Republic is the top state sponsor of terrorism in the world. In fact, Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guard Corps is the largest terror organization on the planet, even bigger than the Islamic State and al Qaeda. The regime in Tehran has also committed innumerable terrorist attacks through its terrorist proxies, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Gaza-based Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Arab states readily acknowledge the aid that Iran gives to these terrorist groups. Speaking at the Middle East conference in Poland, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates were united in their condemnation for Iran.
Saudi’s foreign affairs minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, said that Iran’s belligerent activities destabilize the region, thus making Israeli-Palestinian peace impossible to achieve. “Look at the Palestinians: Who is supporting Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and undercutting the Palestinian Authority? Iran,” he said, going on to cite conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen, where Iran also plays a malignant role.
Meanwhile, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa noted, “We grew up talking about the Israel-Palestine issue as the most important issue.” However, he said, “then, at a later stage, we saw a bigger challenge, we saw a more toxic one — in fact the [most] toxic one in our history — that came from the Islamic Republic.”
With the launching of the SVP and Europe’s continued efforts to salvage the 2015 nuclear accord, Iran has gained more time to surge forward in its nuclear pursuits, while retaining the dangerous infrastructure needed to stockpile more uranium, and continuing to finance its deadly foreign adventurism.
It is truly shameful that European states continue to evade US sanctions as the regime in Tehran continues its march toward nuclear weapons, threatens its neighbors, denies the Holocaust, and suffocates its people.
Iran already possesses ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The Islamic Republic’s ongoing defiance of the world directly threatens US security interests and the security of regional allies. It is now up to America to say, “no more,” and for Europe to stop shielding a murderous regime.