The European Union’slatest Iran chidingwas not entirely unexpected. Despite the bloc’s strong support to Tehran in the wake of United States’ sanctions on the Islamic country, the Iranian government’s «belligerence,» as some analysts would put it, has not ceased.
The EU urged the Iranian regime on Monday to put an «immediate end» to «unacceptable behavior,» including halting any further ballistic missile tests or attempts to assassinate Iranian dissidents on European soil.
The warning comes amid increasing pressure from US President Donald Trump to counter growing Iranian influence in Europe and the Middle East.
It also comes only two days afterIran unveiled a new cruise missilewith a range of more than 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) during celebrations marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Tehran launched the missile despite continuous warnings from the US. Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 international Iran nuclear deal last year and re-imposed sanctions on the country that had been lifted under the pact in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear program. Iran has said its missile tests do not violate the resolution.
A set back for the EU
The EU said on Monday that it was «gravely concerned by Iran’s ballistic missile activity» and called on Tehran to refrain from any further launches that violate United Nations Security Council orders. But the European bloc vowed to continue to support the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
In its response to EU criticism, Iran’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that it was committed to the nuclear deal.
Europe has been supportive of Iran despite Trump’s harsh posture against the Islamic republic. On January 31, several European countries establisheda new transaction channelthat will allow European companies to continue trading with Iran despite US sanctions.
The channel, set up by Germany, France and the UK, is called INSTEX — short for «Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges.» The payment channel allows for European countries to continue trade with Iran but could put them on a collision course with Washington. Experts say that despite these extraordinary concessions, the Iranian government is not cooperating with the bloc fully and is strengthening President Trump’s narrative that Tehran should not be trusted.
«Time and again, Europe has shown its weakness to Tehran. I think the Iranian regime is doing what it has been doing for quite some time,» Paulo Casaca, an Iran expert and the executive director of the Brussels-based South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF), told DW.
Casaca, who was a Portuguese member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2009, said that it is difficult to understand the EU rationale behind its Iran support. «On January 8, the EU listed the internal security directorate of Iranian secret service as a terrorist organization. After this measure, the EU proposed a special vehicle to evade sanctions on Iran. It is likely that INSTEX is only meant to send a message to the US that the EU does not accept its extraterritoriality,» Casaca said.
The expert said that Brussels, however, is beginning to understand the Iranian threat.
«Last July, when the security officials in Belgium, France, and Germany averted a terrorist attempt to bomb a major gathering of Iranian opposition activists in Paris, it was not taken too seriously. Now, it is clear to everyone that it was indeed an attack orchestrated by Iranian authorities,» Casaca argued.
«The argument that Iran could not possibly organize a terrorist attack on European soil is flawed because it ignores the 40-year history of Euro-Iranian relations,» he added.
The Iranian foreign ministry, however, denied allegations that Tehran was plotting terrorist acts in Europe, saying the country itself is a victim of terrorism.