EU Pushes Against Any New Iran Sanctions

David O’SullivanDavid O’Sullivan

European allies, pressed by US President Donald Trump's administration to impose tough new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program, are digging in against moves that would effectively void the 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.

"There is no problem that you can think of with Iran that would not be to the power of 100 worse if this was a nuclear-armed country," David O'Sullivan, the European Union's ambassador to the US, said on Monday in a meeting with editors and reporters at Bloomberg's Washington bureau. "So for us, the first thing to do is to make sure this country doesn't have nuclear weapons. That's what the deal did and does in our view, and it is working."

Tehran denies any military aspects to its nuclear activities, saying the program is exclusively for civilian purposes.

Trump vowed in January to back out from what he has called "the worst deal ever" by May unless its flaws can be resolved.

"This is a last chance," Trump said. US officials have been focusing on talks with their European counterparts on how to restrain Iran's development of ballistic missiles, which is not explicitly barred under its 2015 deal with the US and five other world powers.

But O'Sullivan said the EU would not support reimposing trade sanctions lifted under the nuclear deal under a different rationale, such as to punish Iran for its missile program or alleged support for terrorism.

"That, in my view, is not going to work," O'Sullivan said. "We removed the sanctions which were part of the deal, and in good faith you cannot put back those sanctions without due cause."

***Complete Mythology

The EU envoy also rebuffed suggestions that the 28-nation bloc was slow to condemn Iran because it did not want to risk losing deals made possible when the nuclear sanctions were lifted.

"There is a complete mythology in the United States among some people that somehow we are only interested in trade with Iran and we are willing to sell our souls for the purposes of selling a few automobiles or a few airplanes—unlike Boeing," O'Sullivan said in a jab at the US plane maker, which has about $20 billion in jetliner sales to Iran currently planned.

"We are not in the business of selling our principles for the purposes of a few trade deals," O'Sullivan said.

He said the EU will try to find an accommodation with the US "because you're our friend and ally and we want to work with you. But we will not do anything which jeopardizes the deal, which is absolutely fundamental to Europe's national security," O'Sullivan said. "We will not renegotiate the deal, and we will not do anything which in our view puts the deal in jeopardy."

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