Leading article Australia


22 August 2020

9:00 AM

22 August 2020

9:00 AM

Last week, the United Nations Security Council rejected an indefinite extension of the embargo on the export of conventional weapons to Iran. It is to the eternal shame of Britain, France, Germany and Belgium – the European members of the Security Council – that they abstained from casting a vote and that only the Dominican Republic had moral fibre to stand with the United States in seeking to ensure that arms are not sold to the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.

Iran’s proxy militias have waged a merciless war of terror against innocent civilians in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Iran’s seeks hegemony in the Middle East and is exporting terror far beyond the region, as Argentinians can only too sadly testify. Australians are also not exempt from Iran’s malign influence. They rely on oil that must travel through the Straits of Hormuz and are forced to witness the heartbreaking persecution of Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a brilliant Australian/British scholar who has been imprisoned in a hell-hole in Qarchak, Iran on trumped-up charges.

The bien pensants of the West love to sneer at President Donald Trump. Their assessment of his foreign policy can be summed up in three words: Orange Man Bad. Yet nowhere is the grubby cupidity of the Left more apparent than in policy on Iran. The signatories to President Obama’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action  – China, Russia, France, Germany, the European Union and the United Kingdom – were fundamentally motivated not by the desire to limit Iran’s nuclear capability but to find a convenient fig- leaf that would allow the United States to unlock $100 billion in frozen assets that each party hoped would be spent on acquiring its goods and services.

There is nothing surprising about Russia and China salivating at the prospect of getting their hands on this filthy lucre. Russia is Iran’s traditional arms dealer, Iran is the anchor for China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the Middle East and a vital source of oil and gas. Yet French, German and UK exporters of everything from arms to cars are equally keen to get their hands on the cash. That weapons sold to Iran will be siphoned off to terror groups throughout the Middle East and beyond is a matter of indifference to these people.

The US was absolutely right to pull out of the JCPOA  – Iran has openly violated the agreement and Britain, France and Germany know it. The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that Iran has increased its low-enriched uranium stockpile to more than 300 kilograms; enriched uranium to a purity greater than 3.67 per cent; stored excess heavy water; tested advanced centrifuges; refused to allow international inspectors into suspected nuclear sites and may be concealing undeclared nuclear materials and activities.

None of this is a surprise. Iran has made no secret of its nuclear ambitions and sees the JCPOA as a convenient way of achieving that goal.

The only redeeming feature of the JCPOA was the separate United Nations Security Council resolution that enshrined the ‘snapback’ process. This enabled any one of the council’s five permanent members to reimpose multilateral sanctions if Iran violated the agreement and crucially, because it was enshrined in a separate resolution, ‘snapback’ could be invoked even if a party to the treaty  – in this case, the US – had withdrawn from the agreement.

That moment has come. Having been defeated in a vote in the Security Council, a decision which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has decried as ‘nuts’, the US will likely now trigger snapback. What happens next will determine whether the Security Council and the multilateral diplomacy that relies on it, survives. Russia and China will contest the validity of the US triggering snapback That is to be expected. But if Britain, France, Germany or the EU decide to support these ploys they will live to regret it and deserve the infamy that history will heap upon them.

These nations are already freeloaders on the US nuclear and security guarantee. If they back Russia and China, for the sake of a handful of silver, they will jeopardise their own security. Iran is not their friend and sooner or later it will (again) export terror to Europe or seek to blackmail them. Russia and China have no interest in a strong prosperous Europe either. Ultimately, the UK and Europe rely far more on multilateral diplomacy than the US, which is still the world’s only superpower. They undermine it at their peril.

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