Iran threatens EU capitals against sanctions

Iran privately this week warned EU diplomats it would lift sanctions on Tehran over its handling of the protests, warning diplomats the move could cut Europe’s ties with the country.

“If Europe fails to consider the nuances of the current situation, the impact will be severe and bilateral relations may not survive,” warned a letter – sent to a group of EU ambassadors and seen by POLITICO.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell received a similar letter, also from POLITICO, from Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian on Wednesday.

The EU is expected to soon hit Iran with fines for its behavior towards rioters who broke out after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in the custody of Iran’s Morality Police.

The letter to the EU ambassadors implies that Iran’s punishment “will have an adverse impact on Iran-Europe relations,” which are already “the most fragile of the moment.” She also deplores “current trends in Iran-bashing in Europe” and accuses “warmongering factions in the United States” of “stoking the fires of conflict.”

Several European diplomats confirmed that they had received the Iranian ambassador’s message. Borrell’s office declined a formal comment. Iran was not immediately available for further comment.

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The US has responded to the outbreak with new sanctions against Iran’s morality police. The EU now wants to follow suit and wants to adopt a punitive package at a meeting of foreign ministers on Monday.

EU capitals have pledged to move forward regardless of Iranian pressure.

A senior European diplomat told POLITICO that Iran’s efforts are a “lost cause” as there is “very strong unity and momentum”.

It was a message that Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock emphasized last weekend.

“We will ensure that the EU imposes entry bans on those responsible for (as they called it) these brutal repressions and freezes their assets in the EU,” she told the German weekly Bild am Sonntag on Sunday.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told French lawmakers she saw “no difficulty” for the EU to pass sanctions on Monday “despite pressure from Iran to portray our positions as interference”.

The US also got involved to support the EU’s recent efforts.

The letter to the EU ambassadors came from Iran’s ambassador to the EU, Gholamhossein Dehghani.

In his letter, Dehghani states that an official autopsy found Amini’s death “was not the result of brain trauma or any other physical injury to the body.”

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Still, Dehghani urged EU officials to consider Tehran’s side of the story.

“We expect Europe to assess bilateral relations with the same sensitivity as we do,” he writes. “In this context, attention to the official reports of the Iranian government plays a key role.”

He also says the Iranian police are “obligated to deter and arrest all forms and manifestations of hooliganism on the streets of various cities in Iran.”

He adds: “Increasing police ‘violence’ will distort judgment and mislead Western policymakers.”

Dehghani linked the EU’s latest moves to EU-brokered talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, officially dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

“It’s all the more critical at this critical juncture where there is a real chance of reviving the post-US JCPOA midterms,” ​​he writes. Nuclear talks with Iran are currently on hold ahead of the upcoming US elections in November. The original deal lifted international sanctions on Iran in exchange for severe restrictions on its nuclear program. But the deal has been on life support since former US President Donald Trump left the deal in 2018.

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The letter to Borrell, written by Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian, echoed many of the same points. It said the Iranian authorities bear no responsibility for Amini’s death and argued that the protesters displayed “a pattern of violence and terror.”

It adds: “21 police officers [have] martyrs and dozens of them were injured by daggers and weapons.”

“We and Europe may agree or disagree slightly or strongly on many issues, but this is always a two-way street, as in the case of restoring restrictive measures,” writes Amir Abdollahian. “Therefore, I strongly advise against both sides going down this path.”

The US says it is not currently focused on continuing nuclear talks

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday that continuing nuclear talks with Iran “is not currently a US focus” amid protests in Iran.

“Our focus right now is on the remarkable bravery and courage displayed by the Iranian people through their peaceful demonstrations; by exercising their universal rights to freedom of assembly and expression,” Price said.

Tehran Times


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