BRUSSELS – Congress is still deciding whether to approve the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, but European political and business leaders aren't waiting for the outcome. Germany got in on the action first, with a government jet touching down at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport just five days after the deal was signed. Since then, a representative from every major European power has visited or announced plans to do so, and smaller countries like Poland are scrambling to get a cut.
It’s a measure of the radically different views on the deal on either side of the Atlantic. There’s little opposition to the nuclear pact in Europe, and little appetite to reimpose sanctions if Congress nixes the deal.
German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel rushed to Tehran in the days after the agreement was signed, traveling alongside a business delegation with top officials from some of Germany’s largest companies, including Daimler, Siemens and ThyssenKrupp.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius visited Tehran in late July. A French business delegation of nearly 100 executives will visit Tehran at the end of September. Top French firms including Renault, Peugeot and Total have all visited in recent months.
Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Economic Development Minister Federica Guidi visited Tehran in early August, extending an invitation to President Rouhani to visit Rome. They traveled with a delegation of Italian financial firms, and bankers signed a government-backed financing deal to jumpstart Italian investment in Iran.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond plans to visit Tehran on Saturday to reopen his nation’s embassy there, which has been closed since it was stormed by protesters in 2011. He will be accompanied by top British business leaders amid fears that they were lagging behind other countries in the rush to do deals in Iran.
Austrian President Heinz Fischer plans to visit Tehran in early September, becoming the first European head of state to visit since 2004. He plans to travel with the foreign and economy ministers and other top business leaders. Vienna hosted a major E.U.-Iran trade conference just a week after the deal was signed.
Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo; Industry, Energy and Tourism Minister José Manuel Soria; and Development Minister Ana Pastor will lead a trade delegation to Tehran in early September.
Polish economy minister Janusz Piechociński plans to visit Tehran in September with a business delegation. The country has started a development initiative called “Go Iran” to promote between the two countries.
Swedish Minister for Enterprise Mikael Damberg will visit with a trade delegation in the fall.