By Zhang Dan
On July 8, Iran declared that its enriched uranium purity had exceeded 3.67%. That’s the second time that Iran defied the Iranian nuclear deal after the announcement on July 1 that its enriched uranium stock had exceeded 300 kilograms.
In this regard, unlike the aggressive US, warning Iran to “be careful", the European countries have maintained a restrained stance and have aimed to promote a solution to this issue through dialogue.
Since the withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal last year, the US has "eyes only for sanctions against Iran" and escalated its "maximum pressure” against Iran step by step.
In addition, from the Middle East Conference in Poland’s capital Warsaw, the Munich Security Conference (MSC), US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s "lobbying" in the Middle East, and US President Donald Trump's visit to Europe, the US has been trying to call on other countries to join hands and establish a "united anti-Iran front,”.
However, all these countries, including the US allies, i.e. the UK, France, Germany, Japan, as well as India and Iraq, are not willing to keep pace with the US on this issue.
All along, there has been divergence between Europe and the US on the issue of whether or not to deliver pressure on Iran. European countries still have great interests in Iran concerning energy and investment.
Compared with the US sanctions against Iran, continued cooperation with Iran is undoubtedly a better guarantee of its economic interests.
In fact, Europe and Iran have developed the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), specifically to bypass the US sanctions, which was put into operation a few days ago.
Even if Iran has repeatedly announced its uranium enrichment intentions in recent days, European countries still exercise restraint.
French President Emmanuel Macron made a phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to explore the conditions for the resumption of dialogue among the Iran nuclear deal parties by 15 July. Undoubtedly, Europeans know very well that the root cause of the issue does not lie in Iran, but in the US’ unilateral policy.
Although Iran’s move has been tough, it is “reversible” after all, and its intention is nothing more than urging the relevant European countries to more proactively fulfill their obligations prescribed in the Iranian nuclear deal.
As a big country in the Middle East, Iran has always regarded security as a top priority, and its military strength cannot be underestimated. If the US wants to set up the "united anti-Iran front," the support of the Middle East countries is indispensable.
Although Saudi Arabia, a representative of the Sunni countries in the Middle East, follows the US in its attitude toward Iran, other countries cannot reach consensus.
Qatar itself is in a crisis of downgrading diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia and even more reluctant to side with the US on Iran’s nuclear programme. Other Middle East countries including Kuwait and Oman have long pursued moderate foreign policies and are reluctant to reignite a war in the Gulf region.
Iraq has repeatedly stated that Iran’s security and stability are in the interests of Islamic countries and Arab countries, and it will maintain friendly relations with its neighbor.
On July 6, Iraqi ambassador to Iran Saad Abdul Wahab Jawad Qandil said in Tehran that Iran had stood with Iraq in the fight against extremist groups, and now in facing the maximum pressure from the United States, Iraq will stand firmly next to Iran.
As for Japan and India, on whom the United States has relied heavily for many issues, they also are not willing to "dance with the US" over Iran any more.
The United States has repeatedly pressured India on issues such as e-commerce, generic drugs and preferential trade treatment, which has evoked India’s revulsion.
While Iran’s lower crude oil price and potentially large market is favorable in meeting India’s demand to expand exports, the two countries have complementary needs in economic cooperation.
Being forced to abandon the purchase of Iranian crude oil has caused huge economic losses to India. People in India took to the streets to protest Pompeo's visit on June 25.
For a long time, Japan has adhered to the policy of diversification in energy imports and maintained good relations with Iran through oil trade. As the United States no longer extends the exemption for Iranian oil imports for some countries and regions, Japan’s oil imports from Iran were also seriously affected.
Not long ago, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid an official visit to Iran, acting as a "coordinator" between the United States and Iran. Although Abe intended to use the "diplomatic show" to facilitate his Senate election, he was much more eager to maintain Japan-Iran relations, so as to better protect Japan’s energy security.
It is worth noting that after the attack on the Japanese tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13, the Japanese side did not agree with the so-called “Iranian torpedo attack” proposed by the United States, and also apparently intended to keep distance from the United States.
The US’ attempts to set up a “united anti-Iran front" have repeatedly met refusals. This is because of the relatively close economic and trade ties between Iran and other countries, and the long-term unilateralism pursued by the US.
While imposing economic sanctions and blockades against Iran, the US has also implemented "long arm jurisdiction" on its trading partners and even allies under the "America first" idea.
This bullying attitude of putting its own interests above other countries has seriously undermined the rules of international trade and damaged the interests of its partners including European countries and India. In conclusion, such move cannot help it to realize its own purpose, but instead will drive its allies farther away.