European policymakers are trying to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive, with renewed contacts with both Tehran and Washington.
Europeans disapproved of Trump’s decision to leave the agreement, announced Tuesday, and to re-impose sanctions on Iran. The matter seems so urgent for European leaders that European Council President Donald Tusk has added the Iran deal to the items under discussion next week at an EU summit in Sofia, Bulgaria.
At the same time, the European Commission is also in contact with its external partners, as well as studying the U.S. measures, including the new sanctions, to understand their impact.
“The European Union (EU) deeply regrets the announcement by U.S. President Trump to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” High Representative Frederica Mogherini said in a statement Wednesday morning, calling it a “crucial” deal to avoid increasing the use of nuclear weapons.
“As long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear related commitments, as it has been doing so far and has been confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 10 consecutive reports, the EU will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal,” Mogherini also said.
At the same time, Iranian officials have said that they need guarantees from Europe to keep the deal in place. Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday morning that without sufficient guarantees from the three European countries involved – the U.K., Germany and France — it would no longer make sense to continue with the deal.
Meanwhile, the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Wednesday morning that the Iranian nuclear deal is “not dead” despite Trump’s announcement. Mogherini also said that the nuclear deal resulted from 12 years of diplomacy that has been working, and “the EU is determined to work with the international community to preserve it.”
Some analysts believe that just because the U.S. pulled out of the agreement, it doesn’t mean that the deal will come to an end.
“France, Germany and the U.K. have reaffirmed the Iranian nuclear deal, and the EU has confirmed collective support. The U.S. has withdrawn from the deal. As the Trans-Pacific Partnership demonstrated, a unilateral withdrawal from a multilateral deal does not necessarily mean the deal is over,” Paul Donovan, global chief economist at UBS Wealth Management, said in his daily note.
In the case of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a trade deal signed in 2016 between the U.S., Canada, Japan, Malaysia and others — Trump also decided to pull out earlier this year. The trade deal remains in place for the other countries.
However, other analysts are less positive about the EU’s ability to keep the Iran deal in place. “Reintroduction of sanctions kills the agreement. Period. No chance for EU to hold up the terms in the face of U.S. extraterritoriality,” Josef Janning, senior policy fellow at the think tank European Council on Foreign Relations, said on Twitter.
The Iran nuclear deal was signed by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, with the U.K., France, China, Russia, Germany and Iran.