Why is the EU silent, when Iran acts militarily against British assets?

Graham Charles Lear
6 min readJul 21, 2019

Remain MPs — Any idea why the EU might want to keep quiet?

This is the EU’s de facto Foreign Secretary and Vice-President, a former Italian Communist, posing for selfies in the Iranian Parliament in 2017.

She did her university dissertation on Islam. One of her Commission colleagues did her Masters degree in “Iranian Studies”.

Iran seizes British tanker by force, effectively closes international waterway, EU is silent

Iran has acted militarily using special forces against a British-flagged tanker in Omani waters in the Straits of Hormuz — an essential international waterway which must be kept open.

Yet there is still no comment from the President of the EU Council Donald Tusk, nor from the President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, nor from the President of the EU Parliament David Sassoli.

What happened to EU “unity”?

I monitor the news output and statements from the various organs of the EU machine — the Council, the Commission, the Parliament, and a myriad of other EU bodies. I look at their websites, their press output, and their official and personal Twitter feeds.

I have seen prompt and robust statements on all manner of issues. For example, if US President Donald Trump says something, even if unaccompanied by any military or other action, Twitter responses from EU Presidents come with alacrity.

Strangely, the EU has been very quiet since an aggressive military action against one of its member states. Here is the summary so far, after which we must ask: “Why so quiet?”

EU official news sources

EU Council news website : SILENCE

EU Council Twitter : SILENCE

EU Council President Tusk : SILENCE

EU Commission news website : SILENCE

EU Commission Twitter : SILENCE

EU Commission President Juncker : SILENCE

EU Parliament news website : SILENCE

EU Parliament Twitter : SILENCE

EU Parliament President Sassoli : SILENCE

So why is the EU so quiet?

Four years ago on 14 Jul 2015, Iran agreed on a deal with the US, UK, China, France, Germany, and Russia, to halt its programme of nuclear development which was clearly leading to the making of nuclear bombs. In return, the countries in question agreed to lift economic sanctions against Iran.

This deal is known as JCPOA — the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” — and the EU were heavily involved.

Here is the EU’s Foreign Secretary, meeting Iran’s leader.

The story since May 2018

In May 2018 President Trump announced that the US was no longer going to be part of the deal with Iran, as his administration did not consider it to be an effective constraint on Iran’s ambitions to be a nuclear power. He re-imposed economic sanctions in November last year.

“The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”- President Trump, 08 May 2018

Here is how the EU’s Foreign Secretary responded, with a message to the Iranian people.

“Let me conclude with a message to the Iranian citizens and leaders. To each and every one of them. Do not let anyone dismantle this agreement. It is one of the biggest achievements diplomacy has ever delivered, and we built this together. It is the demonstration that win, win solutions are possible, through dialogue, engagement, and perseverance. That common ground can be found, even when positions and interests differ. That respect can be a universal language.

“This deal belongs to each and every one of us. Stay true to your commitments, as we will stay true to ours. And together, with the rest of the international community, we will preserve the nuclear deal.”

EU Vice-President and Foreign Secretary Mogherini, 08 May 2018.

Since then the EU has continued with its policy of appeasement with Iran, despite Iran’s increasing breaches. In May of this year, Iran announced it would be unilaterally breaking the agreement.

The EU Foreign Secretary and the British Foreign Secretary six days ago

On Monday last week, (15 July 2019), the EU’s Foreign Secretary, Federica Mogherini, said that none of the breaches were significant, and so they would not be triggering its dispute mechanism which could lead to further sanctions.

On the same day last week that Ms. Mogherini made her statement, the UK’s Foreign Secretary (and a contender for Prime Minister) Jeremy Hunt said.

“Iran is still a good year away from developing a nuclear weapon.”

The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Foreign Secretary, 15 Jul 2019

“Well, that’s a load off our minds , thanks.”

Please consider that remark from the British Foreign Secretary, just six days ago.

For the sake of good order

I did eventually find a few words from an EU spokesperson who said: “The seizure of two ships by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz is of deep concern. In an already tense situation, this development brings risks of further escalation and undermines ongoing work to find a way to resolve current tensions. We urge the immediate release of the remaining ship and its crew and call for restraint to avoid further tensions. Freedom of navigation must be respected at all times.”

However, I should stress that this did not come from any prominent EU figure and nor was it widely reported.

The EU is heavily invested — politically — in this deal with Iran

It would not overstate the case to say that the EU has consistently criticised and attacked President Trump for re-imposing sanctions on Iran last year. In the meantime, the EU has continued to appease Iran.

The FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) has a mindset of managing the UK’s decline on the world stage. In particular, in the last three years, it has looked as if UK officials have merely wanted to ‘go with the flow’ in order to court favour with the EU during the Brexit talks.

It might be argued that the decisions made in Brussels regarding foreign policy towards Iran have been those of appeasement. In any event, we consider the Government’s responses to having been an abrogation of UK decision-making in favour of the policies of the EU.

The Iranian ‘deal’, JCPOA, was agreed back in the heady days of the EU’s love-in with the USA’s President Obama when the EU was hoping to agree on a trade deal with the world’s largest economy. This deal was known as TTIP — the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”.

TTIP is no longer mentioned in polite circles in Brussels, as it died a death before Obama left office when an agreement could not be reached. President Trump subsequently halted the negotiations.

The EU is caught between a rock and a hard place

Having continuously berated President Trump for the last year for taking a firmer line against the Iranian regime, it must have been acutely embarrassing for the EU when Iran started breaking the terms of the JCPOA deal.

Nevertheless, when you have a former Italian Communist as EU Foreign Secretary, who did her university dissertation on Islam, surely questions must finally start to be asked by British MPs? Or do they just want to continue in their ignorance?

[ Sources: EU Council | EU Commission | EU Parliament | Iranian TV ]

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.