If Russia rejoins the G-7 — as President Trump favors — then Italy must be admitted to the P5+1.
The peace of the Middle East hinges on such a modus vivendi.
Having withdrawn the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — the official title of the Iran nuclear accord — POTUS 45 has brought the Middle East closer to the brink of a major conflagration involving America, Iran, Israel and Russia
Time to call in Italy — yes, Italy — NATO’s preeminent peacekeeper and Iran’s biggest trading partner in the European Union. (For the record, the new Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, agrees that Russia should be readmitted to the G-7.
Salvaging that success story — and peace with a non-nuclear Iran — is an option that only Rome is equipped to pursue effectively.
Had the Italians been included in the original Iran Contact Group, a P5+2 might well have negotiated a more verifiable nuclear deal. With 3.45 billion euros in bilateral trade, Italy’s economic clout and technological prowess carry much weight among the Mullahs. Yet Rome remains a staunch ally of Israel.
In January, the Italians created a 5 billion euro line of credit whereby Iranian companies and Italian firms would engage in joint industrial projects. Though this agreement has yet to be finalized, it explicitly underscores Italy’s bona fides vis-à-vis Iran. Unlike Paris, Berlin or London, Rome has no truck with the fire-breathing American neo-conservatives yearning for regime change in Tehran.
Italy believes that stringent new sanctions could destabilize Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, strengthen the uber-theocratic hard-liners and result in a more militant Iran.
Jaw-jaw is infinitely smarter than war-war — especially in the seething cauldron of the Middle East.
And Prime Minister Conte will most assuredly remind Tehran that the Iranians are always welcome at Palazzo Chigi.
When Rouhani visited the continent in 20l6, his first destination was Italy. And that was no accident of the calendar.
As authors Cinzia Bianco and Giorgio Cafiero noted, Rouhani lauded the history, vitality and trust that has long existed between the two nations:
“Officials in Tehran even pleaded for Italy to join the P5+1 throughout the nuclear negotiations, highlighting how Italian-Iranian relations have been founded on greater trust than Iran’s relationship with other Western nations. This somewhat privileged relationship dates back to the 1950s, when Enrico Mattei (then-president and founder of the Italian energy giant ENI) created an unprecedented partnership with the National Iranian Oil Company, which greatly contributed to Iran’s national economic development.”
So let Italian diplomacy restore order by bringing a touch of the Pax Romana to the JCPOA proceedings.