Brussels – The European Union vowed to preserve the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, which might put the bloc on a collision course with the one country that does want to end the deal: the United States.
US President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing his country from the international agreement, which is aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
“As long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear related commitments, as it is doing so far, the EU will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal,” said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini just minutes after Trump’s announcement.
“The EU is determined to preserve it. We expect the rest of the international community to continue to do its part to guarantee that it continues to be fully implemented, for the sake of our own collective security.”
A European pledge to stay on the pact with Iran
While the withdrawal of the US doesn’t automatically end the deal, the re-imposition of US sanctions will essentially make it moot as Iran would not be able to enjoy most of its economic benefits due to insecurities tied to the US sanctions.
“Our governments remain committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld, and will work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure this remains the case including through ensuring the continuing economic benefits to the Iranian people that are linked to the agreement,” the leaders of Germany, France and Britain said in a statement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May also urged the US “to avoid taking action which obstructs” the implementation of the deal.
The 2015 deal was struck between six global powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US – and Iran with the EU playing a key role coordinating the diplomatic efforts.
“A unified European approach”
“This is one of the rare concrete achievements of EU multilateral diplomacy in the past years,” said Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group, a non-governmental organization dedicated to preventing crises.
Preserving that deal might actually put the EU on a collision course with the US.
“The United States remain our closest partner and friend, and we will continue to work together on many other issues,” Mogherini said.
However, she noted, the nuclear deal was “not in the hands of any single country to terminate it unilaterally.”
Signalling the growing divide, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter that US policies would be met with “a united European approach.”
He said EU leaders, who are set to meet in Sofia next week for a summit, would discuss the US decision to leave the Iran deal and to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium products, from which the EU is still trying to get a permanent exemption.
Mogherini also had some words of encouragement to Iran’s citizens and leaders – that also contained some veiled criticism of Trump’s decision.
“Do not let anyone dismantle this agreement,” she said. “It is one of the biggest achievements diplomacy has ever delivered, and we have built this together.”
She said the deal was a “win-win” solution that demonstrated that “respect can be a universal language.”
“Stay true to your commitments as we will stay true to ours and together, with the rest of the international community, we will preserve this nuclear deal,” she said.