How Europe Can Save the Iran Nuclear Deal
Europe cannot afford to let the 2015 Iran nuclear deal fail. That's why Donald Trump should be confronted with a choice: either uphold the agreement, in exchange for European support on regional issues and Iran’s missile program; or scrap the deal and risk the loss of European cooperation and the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran.
LONDON – This week, a senior German official pointed out to me that, “The Iran nuclear deal is the last firewall preventing military tensions in the world’s most combustible region from spilling over into thermonuclear war.” That language is unusually apocalyptic, but it reflects a genuine fear that US President Donald Trump could soon dismantle a crucial line of defense that Germans and other Europeans are proud to have built.
European leaders have been on the back foot since January, when Trump gave them a deadline of May 12th to “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal,” or he would re-impose sanctions on Iran. Trump’s main objections to the deal are that it does not address Iran’s misbehavior in the region or its ballistic missile program, nor does it prevent Iran from restarting its nuclear program after 2025. And now that Trump has installed a hawkish new foreign-policy team – with John Bolton as national security adviser and Mike Pompeo as secretary of state – European diplomats fear the worst.
Over the past few months, the German, French, and British governments have been frantically assembling a package of measures – including potential sanctions on Iranian elites – to address Trump’s concerns. And both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have now visited the White House to persuade Trump that it is better to build on the deal than blow it up.