Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has compared Europe’s attitude to Iran with the 1930s appeasement of Nazi Germany, after the EU foreign policy chief said Tehran’s enrichment breach wouldn’t trigger the Iran deal’s dispute mechanism.
The EU’s high representative Federica Mogherini said on Monday that the bloc did not regard Tehran’s recent breaches of the 2015 nuclear deal as being “significant” enough to set an official dispute in motion.
Mogherini said that none of the remaining parties to the accord had signaled any intention to invoke the JCPOA’s dispute article, which means that, so far, “none of them” think that Iran’s non-compliance “is considered to be significant non-compliance.”
Netanyahu lashed out at Europe’s response, saying in a video statement that it was even comparable to appeasement and failed diplomacy with Nazi Germany before the outbreak of World War II.
“(It) reminds me of the European appeasement of the 1930s…It seems there are those in Europe who will not wake up until Iranian nuclear missiles land on European soil. But then it will be too late, of course.”
People during that time “stuck their head in the sand” and “did not see the approaching danger,” Netanyahu warned. Mogherini said, however, that all recent steps taken by Iran are “reversible” and that the EU hopes the country will “go back to full compliance with the agreement.”
Israel has been pushing for a harder line against Tehran from the EU, to match the response of the US. The Trump administration abandoned the deal last year, claiming among other things that it was among the worst deals he’d ever seen. The EU, the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) all maintained, however, that Tehran was still in compliance.
Earlier this month, Tehran announced that it had stepped up its uranium enrichment levels beyond the limits set by the deal, explaining it had every right to do so, given that other parties had failed to keep up their end of the bargain.
Iran had agreed to limit its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief as part of the 2015 deal – but Trump reimposed sanctions when pulling the US out of the deal last year, warning Europe that it would face repercussions if it traded extensively with Iran.
Tehran has criticized Europe for bowing to US pressure and failing to guarantee it the economic benefits it was meant to receive in return for curbing its uranium enrichment.
This week, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called out the EU for talking a big game about wanting to save the deal, known as the JCPOA, but not backing up their words with action. Talking about saving the deal “is totally different from being ready to make the investments required” to save it, he said, “and the Europeans have not done that yet.”
Critics of the Trump administration have noted that top White House advisers –including trigger-happy John Bolton– have long held hawkish positions on Iran and suggested they have been looking for an excuse to launch a military assault on the country. In June, the US accused Iran of attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman – an accusation met with skepticism even by some of Washington’s allies.
Netanyahu warned that Israel would “continue to do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran getting nuclear weaponry.”