European allies warned Donald Trump he could drive them into the arms of China and Russia if he decertified the Iran nuclear deal — and that is exactly what’s happening.
In a rare joint statement, the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom reiterate their commitment to the 2015 agreement:
The nuclear deal was the culmination of thirteen years of diplomacy and was a major step toward ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program is not diverted for military purposes.
European foreign-policy coordinator Federica Mogherini is even more adamant:
The deal has prevented, continues to prevent and will continue to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Trump nevertheless refuses to confirm Iran’s compliance and has threatened to withdraw from the agreement altogether unless it is somehow improved.
China and Russia, the other two signatories, have made common cause with the Europeans, virtually isolating the United States. Only Israel and the Arab Gulf states support Trump.
Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, warned this could happen, telling a regional newspaper earlier this week that Trump’s behavior on the Iran issue might “drive us Europeans into a common position with Russia and China against the United States.”
Gabriel also said he worried convincing the North Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons could become nigh impossible.
Fred Kaplan explains in Slate: “who will want to negotiate with the United States, and who would believe any deal Trump would sign or guarantee he would make, if he pulls out of the Iran deal even though Iran is abiding by its terms?”
Appeals to Congress
Both Mogherini and Russia’s deputy foreign minister have appealed directly to Congress to save the nuclear deal.
By law, it now has sixty days to decide whether or not to restore sanctions.
If it doesn’t, Trump may yet act unilaterally. “If we can’t reach a solution with Congress,” he said on Friday, “then the agreement will be terminated.”