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German–Iranian Relations after the Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical and Economic Dimensions

Germany and Iran, being the most populated countries of Europe and West Asia respectively, have shared a long history on various levels, politically, economically and culturally. Traditionally, Germany has been deemed Iran’s closest partner in Europe although its policy towards Iran during the so-called nuclear crisis in the 2000s largely followed Washington’s lead due to Germany’s joining of the latter’s coercive diplomacy. With the start of the nuclear negotiations in 2013, Berlin has then played a positive role during the negotiations that culminated in the July 2015 nuclear deal. In light of these developments, this article will review German–Iranian political and economic relations.

German Iranian Relations after the Nuclear Deal Geopolitical and Economic
German Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh attend a meeting at Iran's Chamber of Commerce in Tehran on July 20, 2015, immediately after the nuclear deal. AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE
 

The Geopolitical Dimension

 

Germany’s Role during the Nuclear Crisis: Following in Washington’s Footsteps

While Iran’s relations with Western Europe had deteriorated after the 1979 revolution, they nevertheless remained intact, with cooperation continuing in the economic, political, and cultural realms. Importantly, Tehran had traditionally viewed Europe as a counter-balance to U.S. pressures. This view had to be gradually revised during the 2000s, when Iran negotiated with the EU3 (the UK, France and Germany) over its nuclear program. Firstly, in the wake of the initial diplomatic breakthroughs leading to the Tehran (October 2003) and Paris (November 2004) Declarations, the Europeans did not fulfil Tehran’s expectations in return for the 22-month suspension of its nuclear program (November 2003 – August 2005), which were, namely to lobby the U.S. to dismiss its belligerent posture towards Iran and instead to offer Tehran a security guarantee, and to end the U.S. blockade over Iran’s World Trade Organization (WTO) membership. Instead, once Iran resumed its nuclear program, accurately pointing out that the agreement was not fulfilled by the other side, the Europeans ratcheted-up the pressure, blaming Iran for having broken the accords, although the latter specified the temporary and confidence-building measure of

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