Iran’s nuclear program not peaceful, says Member of European Parliament

The European Union is “keeping a close eye” on the situation with Iran’s nuclear program. 

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News

Iran’s nuclear program is not intended for peaceful purposes, and the European Parliament is beginning to wake up to that reality, a member of the Parliament has said.

Iran is set to resume negotiations on a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Deal on November 29, after a hiatus of five months. The talks, which had been taking place in Vienna between the remaining parties to the deal – China, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom – with the U.S. participating through third party negotiators, were put on hold in June to allow for elections in Iran, during which the hardliner Ebrahim Raisi took the Presidency.

Speaking to Israel Hayom from his home country of Sweden, David Lega explained that the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Committee is still assessing the situation.

“We have not yet made a decision with regard to Iran, but we are keeping a close eye on it,” he said. “I cannot speak on behalf of the entire committee, because we have not formally discussed the matter yet, but I do think that most members would agree with me on this.”

In August, the Committee wrote a letter of condemnation to EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell over his decision to send Mora to Raisi’s swearing in ceremony, as he took on the role of President.

Commenting on the Committee’s position in writing the letter, Lega said: “I think in many ways, the European Parliament has in recent years begun to see what a threat Iran is, that is why it is so sad that they sent Mora to the swearing-in ceremony. I do not understand why we should recognize these elections at all.”

Regarding the ongoing negotiations, he added: “If we do reach an agreement, Europe cannot be the only one to respect it. We need to ensure that Iran abides by the deal and respects it, we need to be very clear about how we should act and what sanctions we should include. In my opinion, this is the most important part. If only we honored the agreement, that would be a disaster.”

Already on the table are suggestions that the European Parliament should designate Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and used as a proxy, as a terrorist organization, along with the Houti rebels in Yemen who are also being backed by Tehran.

On Wednesday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, Tehran’s chief negotiator, tweeted that he had spoken on the phone with European Union mediator Enrique Mora. “We agreed to start the negotiations aiming at removal of unlawful and inhumane sanctions on 29 November in Vienna,” he said.

Borrell confirmed the meeting, saying “Representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran will participate.”

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the United States hoped Tehran would return in good faith and ready to negotiate.

“We believe it remains possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA by closing the relatively small number of issues that remained outstanding at the end of June,” Price told a news briefing.

“We believe that if the Iranians are serious, we can manage to do that in relatively short order. (However)… this window of opportunity will not be open forever, especially if Iran continues to take provocative nuclear steps.” he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council suggested negotiations to revive the deal would fail unless U.S. President Joe Biden could guarantee that Washington would not again abandon the pact.

“The US President, lacking authority, is not ready to give guarantees. If the current status quo continues, the result of negotiations is clear,” Ali Shamkhani said in a tweet.

Reuters contributed to this report.