Key Senator: US Needs to Work With Europe on Iran

US President Donald Trump says Iranians are great negotiators, as they negotiated a phenomenal nuclear deal for themselves, but a horrible deal for the United States
US Senator Bob CorkerUS Senator Bob Corker

US Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged US President Donald Trump's administration on Monday to work closely with European allies as it develops its new Iran policy.

"This is something that can only work if the administration exercises tremendous diplomacy with our European allies," Corker told reporters as the Senate returned to the Capitol for the first time since Trump announced his Iran policy, according to Reuters.

Trump defied both allies and adversaries on Friday by refusing to certify that Iran is complying with an international agreement on its nuclear program, and threatened that he might ultimately terminate the accord.

Corker is leading an effort in Congress to write legislation setting new conditions for the US role in the pact, such as automatically reimposing sanctions if Iran is deemed to be within one year of developing a nuclear weapon.

Tehran says nuclear arms have no place in its defense doctrine.

Details have not been finalized, but the plan's outline raised concerns that it might cause Washington—not Tehran—to violate the deal reached with Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, Iran and the European Union.

Corker said Democratic senators told him that Washington must work with Europe.

Trump's fellow Republicans control the Senate and House of Representatives, but their Senate majority is so narrow that most legislation needs Democratic votes to pass.

European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday reaffirmed their support for the nuclear pact and said failure to uphold it could have serious consequences for regional peace, and undermine efforts to check North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Corker said he had tried to convince European officials that the news on Iran was not all bad.

"I ... shared with them that, look, if I were them, I'd look at this as 'the glass is half full', he didn't withdraw from the JCPOA [the nuclear deal], and that's step one," Corker said.

He described efforts underway in Washington as a chance to address "deficiencies" in the nuclear pact, in which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.

Every Republican in Congress, as well as some Democrats, opposed the accord when it was reached by former Democratic president, Barack Obama's administration in 2015.

***Total Termination Possible

AFP cited Trump as saying on Monday that a "total termination" of the Iran nuclear deal remains possible.

His comments came as the EU announced it was sending its chief diplomat to Washington next month to try to save the agreement.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting, Trump said, "I feel strongly about what I did. I'm tired of being taken advantage of. It might be total termination; that's a real possibility, some would say that's a greater possibility."

But he also appeared to leave the door open for a new deal, while praising the negotiation skills of his Iranian counterparts.

"It also could turn out to be very positive. We'll see what happens," he said.

"I thought the tone of the Iranian leaders was very modified and I was happy to see that but I don't know if that means anything. They're great negotiators; they negotiated a phenomenal deal for themselves, but a horrible deal for the United States."

Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy head, said on Monday she would "be in Washington in early November" to urge US lawmakers not to pull out of the deal.

There is broad support among US lawmakers for fresh pressure on Iran over its missile development and regional activities in the region, factors that Trump claims violate the "spirit" of the agreement.

Western diplomats say European powers share some of these concerns but believe they should be dealt with in other forums and warn it would be a mistake to sacrifice the nuclear deal.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints