EU, US and Iran: Europeans have to agree with Trump
A tough speech by US President Donald Trump on Iran put political Europe in confusion. The US president, who described Iran as "the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism", refused to "certify" the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and outlined a scenario offering the EU countries little hope for a further development of economic relations with Iran in the near future.
During his recent speech, Donald Trump said that, relying on his presidential powers, he could terminate the "nuclear deal" at any time, if the parties could not come to a decision during the work of his administration with the US Congress and its allies. Under the convenient decision, the US president means, in particular, the inclusion in the nuclear agreement of an point prohibiting Iran from working on the creation of intercontinental ballistic missiles, the extension of a number of restrictive measures against Iran for the period after 2025, as well as the restoration of some of the sanctions that existed before the conclusion of the JCPOA. Specific steps will be prepared by the Congress within a 60-day period after Trump's refusal to "certify" the JCPOA. European companies will not enter into deals with Iranian partners for at least in the next two months, but will closely monitor developments on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
The leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom recommended Trump to consult with the allies and expressed a firm intention to continue to adhere to the deal with Tehran regardless of the position of the United States.
High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said that the US had no right to unilaterally terminate the Iran nuclear accord, as it was backed by the UN Security Council resolution. (Iran deal: supporters and opponents) Statements by European politicians sound serious. Let's try to understand how serious the prospects of the current rhetorical "Euroboycotte" of President Trump because of the Iranian issue.
In regard to the harsh criticism of Trump, Germany's Foreign Minister Zigmar Gabriel showed great activity in recent days. For example, he said that the US position is pushing the EU to take a "common position against the US" along with Russia and China. (Trump’s Iran plans driving EU toward Russia and China) This statement of the German minister has made a lot of noise in the media, including, in Russia. Will Washington become an outcast, and Russia and Europe be friends? Hardly. Gabriel's words should not be overestimated and they should be considered in specific internal and external political contexts. To begin with, the Foreign Minister of Germany is a "lame duck" in the ministerial post, since his Social Democratic Party is leaving the ruling coalition after the lost elections to the Bundestag. It gives him a rare chance to say "seditious" to the head of the diplomatic department things without being held responsible.
In addition, neither Germany nor other traditional European allies of the United States will risk abandoning close transatlantic ties with Washington because of Iran, despite its potential investment attractiveness. There are many reasons for this - at least, the safety factor. In Germany alone the US has 172 military bases, which means 71 thousand US troops in the "human" equivalent . Throughout Europe, 120,000 US troops are quartered. The project of creating an army of the European Union, which has been discussed for many years, is still very far from realization, and it is still unknown whether it will be realized. And without the military power of the UK, which is leaving the EU, this project becomes even more illusive. Thus, the creation of a structure that is really capable of replacing NATO and the US is not foreseen.
One can not help recalling the economy as well - every year Germans export goods and services to the US for the amount exceeding 100 billion euros, while importing only almost half of it. Is Iran worth the risk of losing such an attractive market as the US?
Finally, Sigmar Gabriel admitted under the pressure of German journalists: "We can not do anything but talk with Americans" in order to find a way out of this "difficult situation." "The question is whether there are banks ready to accompany German, French, English companies in international business with Iran, or all these banks are afraid that if they do, one day the US sanctions will turn against them, and not only against Iran - against any company that is willing to conduct business with Iran. This is the destruction of the economic base for German companies," Gabriel told the DLF.
The minister also noted: "Of course, we together with the UK and France, as well as with China and Russia, will adhere to the agreement, there is no doubt about that. But the real problem is related to sanctions, namely, the fact that the US can impose sanctions in the banking sector against each country that maintains contacts with Iran, which will lead to the fact that the economic promises made to Iran will not be fulfilled, and then we will face the destructive situation in Iran". Thus, the German Foreign Ministry actually openly acknowledged Europe's inability to oppose Washington's actions if it decides to disrupt the Iran deal.
Finally, let us return to Federica Mogerini's argument that the US had no right to unilaterally terminate the Iran nuclear accord, "as it was backed by the UN Security Council resolution". But the international policy of the last decades knows quite a few cases when the resolutions of the UN Security Council were violated and continue to be violated to this day, but there has been no reaction from the European Union. For example, NATO countries actively using military aircraft helped to destroy the Gaddafi regime in Libya in 2011, grossly violating the UN Security Council resolution on creating a "no-fly zone" in Libya. Armenia has continueed to occupy Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas, violating four resolutions of the Security Council. The invasion of Iraq was carried out without the mandate of the UN Security Council. The 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was also held without a UN Security Council mandate.
The list can be continued for a long time, and therefore it is strange that Brussels seriously believes that violating the UN Security Council resolution can stop such a country as the US from any actions - if the UN mechanisms simply do not work even in the case of small Armenia. It seems that the rhetoric of the EU countries hides no serious levers of influence on the situation. Europeans at the moment have no choice but to start another bargain with Donald Trump - this time about Iran.