BERLIN – President Trump is hosting a White Week in Europe with French President Emmanuel Macron on a state visit to the city, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to arrive at the Oval Office on Friday
, who often closely coordinate their foreign policy moves, will define an issue in Washington: the nuclear deal with Iran. Or, as Trump likes to call it, " evil" and " terrible" business with a country he blamed for "behind every problem" in the Middle East. Trump has described the 201
That could change with a new deadline starting May 12th.
A US decision to retreat would not completely surprise its European allies. Trump had already announced in October last year to reverse the presidential "certification" of the Iranian nuclear program. However, his decision did not automatically lead to the United States abrogating the agreement.
This time – as an alleged final US deadline that Trump himself set – the deal is approaching much higher, although all other signatories to the deal said they wanted to stick to it. France, Britain and Germany have called on the President to refuse resistance and have threatened to approve the agreement, even if the United States has decided to abandon it. (China and Russia are also parties to the agreement and are not surprised to retain it.)
So why are European leaders ready to risk a transatlantic break to sustain the Iran deal?
Europe considers this a mistake is better than no deal
Even if there are mistakes, the current agreement is better than no agreement, European governments argue. "We have no indication that Iran is violating its JCPoA obligations," a Foreign Ministry official said last year, referring to the Iran deal, the Joint Comprehensive Action Action, with its acronym. French officials have come to the same conclusion and even US officials have argued that Iran is in line.
"It is important to maintain them to prevent their proliferation, and in this time, when we see the risks with North Korea, we need to maintain that line," said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The UN Observatory on Compliance has reached a similar conclusion.
Intelligence agencies have seen a decline in Iran's proliferation efforts in Europe
German intelligence has said Iran's "proliferation efforts for its nuclear program" have declined significantly after the deal implementation. The authorities did not answer questions about the details of this decline, but the authorities in Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, said that the attempt to obtain resources that could be used to implement its nuclear program had fallen from 141 in 2015 to next year. German officials argue that the slowing Iranian efforts are a sign that the 2015 deal is working.
Europe could continue to hold on to the deal without US support but with high political costs
The lifting of sanctions under the agreement prompted a rush by European companies to do business in Iran. These are now lobbying their governments to prevent the agreement from breaking off, and hope that Iran can continue to uphold its conditions if Europe does not impose sanctions.
Theoretically, the non-U. S.'s signatories, which include Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, and Iran, could agree to abide by the agreement without US involvement. Speaking at a European-Iranian investment conference last fall, Philippe Delleur, vice president of public affairs for transport company Alstom said: "I assume that they will not reintroduce European sanctions. [In that case] We should be able to continue working."
Such a decision could have serious repercussions on transatlantic relations at a time when Trump was already open to disagreement and anger over defense spending by many of his local allies, trade, climate change and other issues.
A US withdrawal would lead Europe to Russia, China, and Iran
If Europe adhered to the deal, it would face three US states against the US, with which it is most concerned has: Russia, China and Iran. Merkel acknowledged this possibility in a January conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the news site Axios, which Merkel quotes as saying: "It will put us, the British and the French on the same page as Russia, China and Iran The US and Israel will be on the other side – do you want that? "
All three nations, Russia, China and Iran, have recently warned the United States of the consequences if Trump left the agreement. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that there would be "grave consequences," including an increase in his nuclear program, as Moscow and Beijing vowed to block such a move by the US. Europe could be risked unintentionally strengthening the credibility of its threats.
Existing Trade Relations and Investment Complicate Trade Completion
Iran's exports to the European Union have increased by 375 percent from 2015 to 2016, and European companies have already invested a considerable amount of money in the country, which is every decision which could lead to the collapse of the agreement, soars.
The increase in trade has been facilitated by the reintroduction of banking links between Iran and the West European banks have so far refrained from engaging directly with Iranian institutions. European credit agencies have entered to give export guarantees to companies willing to deal with Iran.
But would Europe be able to protect its businesses from US sanctions?
However, such a model for rescuing the Iran agreement could defuse if the United States decides to punish European companies, banks or agencies that cooperate with Iran. Officials examine ways to protect European businesses and individuals from US sanctions.
Some European business leaders doubt that such efforts would provide adequate protection. "Our attitude and the attitude of international companies is that we must comply with international law and applicable law, and if the sanctions come back and that means we can not do our work inside and outside Iran, we will stop," said one Senior executive of a large multinational corporation that spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitivity of decertification.
"People have been discussing the idea of protection legislation [E.U. blocking sanctions]and I think in practice that they would not rely on Iran to invest in real multinational corporations," said the executive.
In any case, the European governments would still have an embarrassing decision: would they take sides? Regime they often denounce human rights violations or with the United States?
A previous version of this article was first published in October 2017. It was updated on April 24, 2018.
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