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Europe Prepares Measures to Save Iran Deal

Europe Prepares Measures to Save Iran Deal Europe Prepares Measures to Save Iran Deal

European countries are scrambling to cobble together a package of measures they hope will keep the Iran nuclear deal on track, if US President Donald Trump ignores their pleas and decertifies the landmark 2015 agreement.

The package would include a strong statement backing the deal by European powers, together with efforts to lobby the US Congress and put wider pressure on Iran, officials told Reuters.

But without strong US support for the deal, senior officials in Berlin, Paris and London say it may be only a matter of time before the pact between Tehran and six world powers unravels, with grave consequences for Middle East security, nonproliferation efforts and transatlantic ties.

The two-year-old agreement, under which Iran agreed to freeze its nuclear program for over a decade in exchange for sanctions relief, is viewed in Europe as a rare triumph of international diplomacy in the Middle East.

As tensions over North Korea's nuclear activities risk boiling over into all-out war, any move by the US to undermine the Iran deal is seen in Europe as utter folly.

European capitals have been delivering this message to the White House and Congress in one of the most intense lobbying campaigns in recent memory. In the past weeks, European ambassadors have met dozens of US lawmakers. And on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May lobbied Trump by phone.

"If the feeling is the United States no longer supports the agreement, then the political reality is that the deal will be in serious jeopardy and its implementation will be very difficult," a senior French diplomat told Reuters.

*** Three-Pronged Strategy

European officials said they were preparing a three-pronged strategy, if Trump declines to certify Tehran's compliance.

First, Berlin, London and Paris would issue statements reaffirming their commitment to the deal.

Second, they would redouble efforts to lobby the US Congress, which appears keen to keep the deal, against any rash moves.

And third, they would present measures to pressure Iran over its ballistic missile program and alleged destabilizing policies in the Middle East, areas that fall outside the narrowly-focused nuclear deal.

French President Emmanuel Macron alluded to this at the United Nations last month. Diplomats said the package was still in the works and they had not yet briefed Brussels on it.

With the third step, the Europeans hope to build a bridge to Washington while keeping the deal intact. But a German diplomat said ratcheting up pressure on Tehran was like walking a tightrope: push too hard and the whole deal could fall apart.

"We all knew the JCPOA [the nuclear deal] wasn't perfect, but by calling its benefits into question I see us only losing," said a senior European diplomat who has been involved in negotiations with Iran since 2003.

 

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