Iran and EU agree to work toward natural gas deal
The European Union has taken the first steps toward importing natural gas from Iran, hoping to boost
the country’s energy security.
The EU’s desire to tap into Iran’s energy reserves is a key reason why President Barack Obama says the
deal reached last year to limit Iran’s nuclear program was the best he could get. Finding a new source of
energy became a priority after Russian President Vladimir Putin used natural gas to demand European
acquiescence to his invasion of Ukraine and other geopolitical adventures.
A pipeline to import Iranian gas would reduce the continent’s dependence on both Russia and imports
of expensive liquefied natural gas from the United States and other sources. The more sources of energy
a country enjoys, the greater the energy security.
EU High Representative Federica Mogherini met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in
Tehran on April 16 and announced their plans to cooperate on many levels, but energy was the most
Their joint action plan committed the two sides to negotiate:
– Conditions for investment in the Iranian energy sector;
– Development prospects of oil and gas export infrastructure in Iran to contribute to the EU’s energy
– Joint cooperation on Iran’s oil and gas industry, upstream, midstream and downstream activities;
– Dialogue on a regulatory framework conducive for attracting investments in power generation,
transmission, and distribution;
– Joint cooperation activities in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
That’s billions of dollars in potential business for both European and Iranian companies. Unfortunately,
U.S. firms remain locked out of participating in that bonanza because of remaining U.S. sanctions on
Iran. That’s a missed opportunity.
Iranian leaders have prioritized economic growth over nuclear weapons, which has angered many
hardliners in Tehran. These same hardliners fear that opening the country up to foreign business will
lead to liberalizing influences, something that is inevitable.
The EU is both securing its energy future while having a positive influence on Iran. The U.S. could do the
same if our leaders could get past the outdated notion that Iran is our worst enemy in the Middle East.
Constructive engagement with Iran would help defeat our true enemies, such as al-Qaeda and Islamic
State Group, while marginalizing extremists in Tehran. Our companies could also make some serious
money at the same time. It’s time to rethink Iran as the bogeyman.