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Trump Push to Ax Iran Deal Could Alienate Allies

Trump Push to Ax Iran Deal Could Alienate AlliesTrump Push to Ax Iran Deal Could Alienate Allies

US President Donald Trump's repeated promises to rip up the Iran nuclear deal could drive a damaging wedge between the US and key European allies.

According to Thomas Wright, an expert in American foreign policy at the Brookings Institution as cited by NBC News, if the US pulled out of the deal, it would not be able to count on the EU to reimpose the tough multilateral sanctions that the West claims were effective in bringing Iran to the negotiating table in the first place.

The pullout would create a deep rift between the US and the EU, which has suffered numerous cracks on various fronts. Backed by Russia and China, the EU will uphold the nuclear deal and make the US suffer a loss of credibility and isolation.

Trump has made no secret of his dislike to scuttle the 2015 agreement to please his allies and sell more arms, which saw painful sanctions lifted in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program. On the campaign trail, he called it "the worst deal ever".

  Unfounded US Claims

On Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson alleged, "Iran is clearly in default" of US expectations. He cited Iranian support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its development of ballistic missiles and "cyber activities", which have absolutely nothing to do with JCPOA.

Tillerson justified his illogical stance by saying, "We have to consider the totality of Iran's activities and not let our view be defined solely by the nuclear agreement."

While the Trump administration also extended sanctions relief to Tehran under the deal, Trump reportedly plans to sign off on a new Iran policy ahead of his first appearance at the United Nations General Assembly next week.

The president is seeking to take a more aggressive approach, according to administration officials.

While there is broad consensus that Iran is abiding by the agreement with the US, Russia, China and three European powers, some US officials have hinted that Trump would decertify the deal when it comes up for renewal in October.

Earlier this month, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the agreement "falls short of what was promised.

We were promised an end to the Iranian nuclear program. What emerged was not an end but a pause.

"So do we allow ourselves to have blinders on to a flawed deal or do we say what else can we do? ... We can't continue to kick this down the road."

European governments stand firmly behind the plan, and European companies have pursued a series of economic partnerships inside Iran after major sanctions were lifted.

  No Consensus

The Brookings expert said Europeans would be furious at Trump for wrecking the agreement and they would also worry about the prospect and consequence of US strikes on Iran's nuclear program.

Wright noted that the "result could be a diplomatic crisis—worse than the Iraq crisis of 2003," referring to the US-EU rift that followed the American invasion to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

He believed that achieving the sort of international consensus that produced the 2015 agreement would be practically impossible.

"What the Trump Administration will expect to do is unilaterally pull out of the deal and then go to Europe and say 'follow us'," said Wright. "But you don't go back to this containment policy ... you go back to very limited sanctions and what was really effective in Iran were the multilateral sanctions."

EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, also said in a statement to NBC News that the Iran deal is a good and robust agreement that serves the interests of all parties.

"It is not an agreement between two countries—it is a commitment undertaken by the entire international community on one side and Iran on the other, supported by a resolution of the UN Security Council," she said.

 

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