Allies at Cross-Purposes: Trump Puts Europe Into Damage-Control Mode

Roman Schwartz
May 17, 2018

The circumstances surrounding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program are a crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said opening talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday.

He stated: "We’re right here for the United Kingdom to clearly stand with our European buddies and companions, France and Germany to point out our dedication to the deal".

Vast numbers of Iranian citizens who are impoverished by unemployment and inflation had hoped that JCPOA would have brought economic benefits.

The deal's proponents say it is crucial to forestalling a nuclear Iran and preventing wider war in the Middle East.

Zarif will later fly to Moscow and Brussels to consult the remaining signatories to the 2015 agreement denounced by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Zarif said talks would go on for the next two weeks and European Union diplomats said they needed some time to understand the US position.

In the CNN interview, Bolton did not respond directly when asked whether Trump might seek "regime change" in Iran, or whether the U.S. military would be ordered to make a preemptive strike against any Iranian nuclear facility.

Many Europeans, like Ms. Tocci, believe that the unstated American aim is "regime change" in Iran, something that the British and French foreign ministers, Boris Johnson and Mr. Le Drian, have specifically ruled out as a European goal.

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"I'm hopeful in the days and weeks ahead we can come up with a deal that really works, that really protects the world from Iranian bad behavior, not just their nuclear program, but their missiles and their malign behavior as well", he said.

"We're not talking about annexes or modifications of the agreement at all, we're talking about setting up concrete measures" to preserve the deal, Mogherini said. The announcement triggered US plans to reimpose sanctions on the Islamic Republic within roughly three to six months.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the deal on Iran's nuclear program, was signed between Iran and six worldwide mediators (the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Russia, the United States, and France) on July 14, 2015.

They include retaliatory sanctions, allowing the European Investment Bank to invest directly in Iran and coordinating euro-denominated credit lines from European governments. For the world, it will mean further division between the USA and the European Union and further global imperialist competition.

The European Commission has been examining measures to counter the introduction of any US sanctions that could harm European businesses. "We will try to uphold our side of the bargain".

They could consider retaliatory sanctions using the EU's so-called blocking statute that bans any European Union company from complying with US sanctions and does not recognise any court rulings that enforce American penalties.

"Let's not fool ourselves that there are dozens of things we can do", said a second senior European diplomat. So, the rationale for getting out of the deal is that it was contrary to American national security interests when we entered into it, and it hadn't gotten any better with age.

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