Israel Wants to Stiffen Sanctions on Iran by Convincing Europeans - Analyst

© AP Photo / Christophe EnaFrench President Emmanuel Macron, right, greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Sunday, Dec.10, 2017
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Sunday, Dec.10, 2017 - Sputnik International
The French foreign minister said that Iran's steps to boost uranium enrichment are not welcome, although they comply with the JCPOA. This came after Netanyahu met with Macron in an effort to boost support against Iran. Sputnik discussed the issue with Dr. Ronen Zeidel, Middle East analyst with the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University.

Sputnik: What do you make of Netanyahu’s visit to Europe so far?

Ronen Zeidel: Israel was very satisfied with the American withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal. As long as the Europeans still comply with the deal, the deal is still valid. Israel is actually trying to work closer with the Europeans so that sanctions on Iran would be stiffened, because as long as the Europeans still comply with the deal, they don’t comply with the sanctions. It’s only American sanctions and the threat of American sanctions that affect other parties and Israel would like to stiffen the sanctions on Iran by convincing the Europeans. I also believe that this was not the only item on the agenda, because speaking about Iran, he was probably also referring to the situation in Syria and other items.

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Sputnik: How would you assess the success that Netanyahu’s had so far in the meetings that he’s had with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and with Macron?

Ronen Zeidel: Very limited, very limited. Of course the Americans and the Europeans aren’t broadcasting on the same waves, as we say, and in his meeting with Macron he was also reminded of the situation in Gaza and the security situation in the territories. The meeting with Macron was half-friendly, half-critical. I’m not so sure about the meeting with Merkel, she was probably more cautious when speaking with Israeli politicians. But I believe he wasn’t so successful in getting the European withdrawal and compliance with the American withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.

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Sputnik: Can we anticipate anything different from the meeting with Theresa May?

Ronen Zeidel: Not that I really know about that. I can hardly see anything about this meeting and I believe that Netanyahu wouldn’t change an already existing decision by the British Government on Iran.

French President Emmanuel Macron, second left, speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, and British Prime Minister Theresa May, right, during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, June 22, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Sputnik: I actually have to note that although Netanyahu is now visiting these European leaders, you have to note that many of these European leaders also reached out to the US and asked them not to leave the JCPOA. Do you think that there were high hopes for this meeting at any point in time?

Ronen Zeidel: No, I don’t believe there were high hopes for a breakthrough from the Israeli side from these meetings. Because the Americans have already decided to withdraw, they wanted to get the Europeans closer to the American position and stiffen sanctions on Iran. Because Israel understands that the agreement is still valid as long as the Europeans and the rest of the world, of course, are complying with it.

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Sputnik: After the meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel she did say that she admitted that Iran represents a threat to Israel’s security. Do you think that’s anything significant and can we expect anything to come of that?

Ronen Zeidel: I don’t think that anything commercial or economical would come from what Angela Merkel says. I believe that the Europeans treat the new Iranian nuclear threat very seriously and believe that the right way to curb it and stop it is by complying with the nuclear agreement. They believe that this was the best deal. The current American administration believes in different things and in different ways to make the Iranians stop their nuclear project and Israel is siding with the American administration and so far the American administration has been very pro-Israeli, maybe overly pro-Israeli. But as far as the Europeans are concerned, I think that they still continue with their own particular way to stop the Iranian nuclear project. They believe that the nuclear project of Iran is a serious matter and it not only concerns Israel, it concerns some other countries in the region and it’s a serious matter, but they believe in a different way of solving it.

Sputnik: Ant it’s also interesting to know that while Netanyahu is lobbying various European leaders to impose additional sanctions and pull out of the JCPOA, we have Iran, which is reacting and the reaction so far has been “we’re going to up our production of enriched uranium.” What kind of reaction has there been in Israel regarding that and is this not perceived as a direct response to the pressure put on Donald Trump and the decision by Donald Trump to pull out of the agreement? Because they had the option to increase their uranium enrichment prior to this and they didn’t do it and now they are.

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Ronen Zeidel: I wanted to remind you that Iranians are allowed to enrich uranium under the existing agreement and that’s what they’ve just said they would be doing. In Israel it was taken as a kind of expression of panic in Tehran from the possibility of renewed sanctions, but the Iranians still comply with the agreement and say “we do what we do.” It sounds very alarming and the Israeli minister of defense talked about panic in Tehran because of this reaction by Khamenei. But the Iranians are just playing the trader they say “you do that, we do that.” It’s still within the agreement because the Iranians are actually interested from their own side to continue the agreement and not break it.

The views and opinions expressed in this article by Ronen Zeidel are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's position.

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