France urges Europe to act on 'unacceptable' US Iran sanctions

Hugh Fox
May 13, 2018

US President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he was pulling out of the landmark 2015 deal curbing Iran's nuclear programme, reintroducing sanctions on the Islamic republic and those who trade with it.

President Trump's decision to violate and withdraw from the Iran anti-nuclear deal is one of the most unsafe foreign policy blunders in recent memory, setting the stage for a war that one analyst has noted could "make the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts look like a walk in the park".

Le Maire said the European Union had to defend its "economic sovereignty" when it comes to the right to trade with Iran.

But the UN's nuclear watchdog, which is charged with ensuring Iran abides by the terms of the deal, said Wednesday Tehran was upholding its "nuclear-related commitments".

Barkan said Trump's tough stance comes straight out of his book, "The Art of the Deal" and should surprise no one.

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Making his withdrawal announcement on Tuesday, Trump pilloried the accord for lacking mechanisms to "prevent, detect, and punish cheating" or provide immediate access to suspicious military sites.

"The pull out of the Iranian deal and the pending election in Venezuela have clearly added to the uncertainties and premium".

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also made a last-minute dash to Washington but did not get to see the president.

Meanwhile, the president's decision on the Iran deal has placed the U.S. government at odds with key European allies, including the UK, France and Germany, who described the move as regrettable.

"Macron's visit was the last resort", a European official told Reuters in Brussels, referring to the French leader's talks with Trump in the White House on April 24. Iran can decide its minimum price from Europe in order to stay in the deal.

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All available evidence suggests that Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China will remain faithful to the deal despite the United States withdrawal from it. Protests that spread through several Iranian cities in December and January were linked to stagnation and rising costs of living, as the nuclear deal failed to deliver economic liftoff. The Russians and Chinese would have sought to resist a stringent agreement that put Iran out of the nuclear-weapons business for the long term, but a US administration that made plain the top priority it placed on the imperative for an agreement to keep the world's most unsafe regime from attaining the world's most risky weapons of mass destruction could have gotten its way. Former CIA director John O. Brennon, for example, tweeted "Today, Donald Trump simultaneously lied about the Iranian nuclear deal, undermined global confidence in USA commitments, alienated our closest allies, strengthened Iranian hawks, & gave North Korea more reason to keep its nukes".

"This deal was fundamentally flawed", he said.

As the President told Fox News" Laura Ingraham last November: "Let me tell you, the one that matters is me ... In a rare statement criticizing Trump, President Obama makes a convincing argument that this common misperception is incorrect. In other European capitals, senior politicians and diplomats were uttering similar remarks.

But officials are privately sceptical about how long it can survive, particularly if the U.S. imposes sanctions on European companies doing business in Iran.

"We are closely monitoring developments following (the) USA administration decision ... and will assess our position and commercial arrangements accordingly", Hellenic said.

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