Saturday

26th May 2018

EU in diplomatic push to save Iran deal

  • Trump's Iran decision was latest in a long line that alienated EU lreaders (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU leaders have pledged to protect the Iran nuclear deal after US president Donald Trump put its future in doubt.

"We encourage the US administration and Congress to consider the implications to the security of the US and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine the JCPoA," France, Germany, and the UK said jointly on Friday (13 October), referring to the Iran pact, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The 2015 Iran deal, 12 years in the making, was negotiated with EU mediation (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

They said the EU was ready to join the US in taking "further appropriate measures" against Iran's missile programme and its activities in Lebanon and Syria.

But they said they "stand committed to the JCPoA" because it was "in our shared national security interest".

France's Emmanuel Macron, German leader Angela Merkel, and the UK's Theresa May spoke after Trump, earlier on Friday, triggered a Congress vote, due in 60 days, on whether to cancel the deal and snap back sanctions.

"The Iranian regime has committed multiple violations of the agreement," he said on TV.

He also threatened to "terminate" the JCPoA by his own order if Congress did not introduce tougher terms, such as extending the deal's 2025 expiry date and adding curbs on Iran's ballistic missile production.

Trump's speech set the scene for intense trans-Atlantic diplomacy.

The EU leaders said: "We have asked our foreign ministers to consider with the US how to take these issues forward".

Macron also phoned Iranian president Hasan Rouhani to reassure him of "France's commitment" to the pact.

The EU's foreign relations chief, Federica Mogherini, questioned the legality of Trump's threat.

"It [the JCPoA] is not a bilateral agreement, it does not belong to any single country and it is not up to any single country to terminate it," she said.

"The President of the United States has many powers, not this one," she insisted.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a UN body in Vienna that monitors the pact's implementation, also questioned Trump's claim that Iran was guilty of "multiple violations".

"The nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the JCPoA are being implemented," the IAEA head, Yukiya Amano, said.

The Republican Party's anti-Iran hawks would need more than 60 votes in Congress to snap back sanctions or to introduce new terms.

That would require an anti-Iran vote by nearly every Republican and by some Democratic Party senators.

But two prominent Democrats, senator Ben Cardin, and former secretary of state John Kerry reiterated the EU powers' concerns in strident words.

Cardin told the Reuters news agency he would only support new legislation if it had the backing of EU allies. Kerry said: "Our allies and our Congress must now act as the only adults left in the room with the power to protect our national interests".

Kerry added that Trump's decision, which immediately sent ripples through the Middle East, was "dangerous".

Israel and Saudi Arabia, two US allies and Iran adversaries, welcomed the news from Washington, with Israel saying it would "roll back Iran's aggression and … confront its criminal support of terrorism".

But Iran reacted by mocking Trump and Saudi Arabia.

"He [Trump] has not studied international law … Apparently, he doesn't know that this agreement is not a bilateral agreement solely between Iran and the United States," Rouhani said.

He called Saudi Arabia a "tribal" country that had "never seen an election".

Trump followed his TV address with a tweet that said: "Many people talking, with much agreement, on my Iran speech today. Participants in the deal are making lots of money on trade with Iran!".

The JCPoA aside, he also imposed US financial sanctions on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC), a branch of the Iranian military, and on three IGRC-linked companies.

The US treasury said this was due to the IGRC's support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's forces in the civil war in Syria and for Hezbollah, a militia in Lebanon dubbed a terrorist entity by the US.

Trump stopped short of designating the IGRC itself as a terrorist entity, but treasury chief Steven T. Mnuchin accused it of aiding "al-Assad's relentless campaign of brutal violence against his own people".

The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said it would have been technically difficult to designate an arm of the Iranian state as a terrorist entity.

"I fully expect that our allies and friends in Europe and in the region are going to be very supportive in efforts undertaken to deal with Iran's threats," he said.

EU visit to Iran designed to reassure banks

High-level EU trip designed to reassure international banks on doing business with Islamic Republic. Officials said won’t have time to meet human rights activists.

Ashton looks to closer EU ties on Iran visit

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has offered to work more closely with Iran on human rights and drugs trafficking on her first visit to the country.

EU circles the wagons around Iran deal

EU diplomacy chief Mogherini to fly to Washington next month, after ministers unite in support of Iran nuclear deal at Luxembourg meeting.

Analysis

EU has no 'magic bullet' against US Iran sanctions

EU leaders in Sofia will discuss how they can protect the bloc's economic interests against US threats to sanction companies doing business in Iran. But their options are limited.

Opinion

Ratifying CETA after 'Achmea scandal' is anti-European

While few people in Europe have heard of the 'Achmea' ruling, the case will have far-reaching consequences. Member states must understand the implications of the case quickly - especially those considering ratifying the EU-Canada trade agreement.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  11. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  12. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations