Leave it or scrap it: Europe-US swings on Iran nuclear deal as deadline approaches

Leave it or scrap it: Europe-US swings on Iran nuclear deal as deadline approaches
Transatlantic tensions have risen after French President Emmanuel Macron admitted that Donald Trump will most likely pull the US out from the Iranian nuclear accord, while EU leaders staunchly insist that it can’t be renegotiated.

With a deadline looming for the US to decide whether to restore sanctions against Iran, more European countries, including Britain and Germany, have opposed Trump’s threat to withdraw from the deal.

During his three-day visit to the US, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed doubts that the Iran nuclear deal would remain intact, and said that there was little hope his American counterpart would keep his pre-election promise.

“I do not know what the American decision will be, but if you take a rational look at the announcements and the comments made by President Trump, it seems to me that he will not do his utmost to preserve the JCPOA,” Macron told a press conference at the George Washington University.

However, Macron’s European colleagues are unconvinced that the deal should be reviewed. The EU diplomatic chief, Federica Mogherini, defended the existing nuclear accord, saying that it was “essential for European security” and “needs to be preserved.”

“On what can happen in the future, we’ll see in the future, but there is one deal existing, it’s working, it needs to be preserved,” Mogherini said in Brussels on Wednesday.

Mogherini’s stance was backed by the German Foreign Ministry, which affirmed that the Iran nuclear deal is Germany’s top priority. “We must look at this proposal carefully. The question is under what circumstances would Iran be prepared to let this process happen. We are in close and constructive exchange within the EU-3 and the US,” said a spokesman.

“The nuclear agreement was negotiated with seven countries and the EU, and [it] can’t be renegotiated... but it is also clear that beyond the nuclear agreement, we want to make sure that Iran’s nuclear program serves exclusively peaceful purposes.”

“For us, the position stays clear – the highest priority is keeping the nuclear agreement and full implementation on all sides,” added the Foreign Ministry spokesman.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson expressed hope that the accord could be saved. However, while he criticized Iran’s “behavior,” he said hoped the US would not withdraw from the deal. “Clearly a lot of thought is going into how to keep a non-US version,” said Johnson. “Believe me, that is not our preferred option.”

The 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – which restricts Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief – is now hanging by a thread after US President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw from it.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded by claiming that Tehran would then withdraw as well, and warned Trump of “severe consequences” for the US if Trump decided to leave the deal.

Tehran had also accused the Trump administration of impeding investment in Iran, which was promised under the deal. The president reciprocated by saying that Iran “will pay a price like few countries have ever paid” if the country threatened the US in any way.

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