THE inevitable has happened. Much against the advice of NATO partners, European Union and almost all world leaders, Trump announced on May 8 that the US is out of the Obama- era Iran nuclear deal citing only presumptions of Iran making nuclear bombs. The sanctions imposed on Iran before the deal are being restored. Thus Trump has again thrown the world in uncertainty, confusion and instability – both financial and political. The European leaders, who had earlier urged Trump not to scrap the deal, felt bewildered. The capitals of UK, France, Germany and Italy are involved in hectic diplomatic activity to face the challenge and control the damage caused by unilateral American action. The US decision, while exposing the deep rift between American and its European allies, clearly manifests the war-path taken by America and its intention to wage another war in the Middle East, after all it suits them as American economy always flourishes in war. Trump’s announcement reminds one of the hoax created by George Bush in 2001 for Iraq making weapons of mass destruction which subsequently proved to be utterly false and admitted by Bush himself and Tony Blair, the then UK Prime Minister.
In the wake of confusion due to US decision, European leaders opened a diplomatic push on May 9 to salvage the Iran nuclear accord without the United States, opening direct talks with Tehran but also looking ahead to possible battles with Washington over European business ties with Iran. “The deal is not dead,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking on France’s RTL Radio. “There’s an American withdrawal from the deal, but the deal is still there.” The sentiment was shared in other capitals backing the 2015 accord: Brussels, Berlin, Moscow and Beijing. Meanwhile, the new US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, set a confrontational tone with Europe. He tweeted, “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.”
Bruno Le Maire, France’s Finance Minister, fired back for the European Union. Speaking on French Radio, he said the United States should not consider itself the world’s “economic policeman.” French President Emmanuel Macron, Europe’s leading interlocutor as it sought to convince Trump of the merits of the deal, has ordered his diplomats to engage with their European counterparts. But Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, suggested the country might take a harder line in the talks by seeking a “guarantee” of European support for the deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
“I don’t trust these three EU countries either,” Khamenei tweeted in English. “If the government wants to make a contract, they should ask for a guarantee, or else they will all do just as the US did. If there’s not definite guarantee, the #JCPOA cannot continue.” Federica Mogherini, the EU Foreign Policy chief said the Bloc will remain “committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal” as long as Iran abides by its end of the bargain. Beyond the major policy break with Washington, however, another rift looms. The US plan to reimpose sanctions on Iran could impact European businesses and others that have moved into Iran since the deal took effect. If they defy the US and continue business there, they may risk their access to the much larger US market. “The EU has repeatedly stressed that the sanctions lifting has a positive impact on trade and economic relations with Iran,” said an EU statement. “The EU stresses its commitment to ensuring that this can continue to be delivered.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others urged Trump to preserve the JCPOA, as the nuclear deal is officially known, while they worked collectively to address other points of contention — chiefly Iran’s ballistic missile program, which is not covered by the agreement, as well as its destabilizing role in the region. But instead of building a united front with Europe, Trump may be driving a wedge between Washington and its traditional transatlantic partners. In a joint message, European leaders said that they would attempt to stick to the deal, no matter Trump’s decision. Former US President, Barrack Obama, tweeted “There are few issues more important to the security of the US than the potential spread of nuclear weapons or the potential for even more destructive war in the Middle East.
The decision to put the JCPOA at risk is a serious mistake” According to Jonathan Marcus of BBC, “the inconvenient truth for Donald Trump is that, as far as it goes, the nuclear deal was working. Despite this, Mr.Trump presented it in stark and frankly erroneous terms – for leaving out things that it was never supposed to cover in the first place. He has put US diplomacy on a collision course with some of Washington’s closest allies. And some fear that he may have brought a new and catastrophic regional war in the Middle East that much closer”. This reminds us of the very recent warning of former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger after his meeting with Donald Trump, “If someone still can’t hear the war drums, he is deaf”.
— The writer is former DG (Emigration) and consultant ILO, IOM.