Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Europe could work to keep nuclear deal alive without US

Europe could work to keep nuclear deal alive without US

Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed in the coming months, the United States of America will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately.

But by picking CIA Director Mike Pompeo, an avowed Iran hawk, to succeed Tillerson as secretary of state, Trump sent a clear message that Washington was hardening its stance as a May 12 deadline approaches for the possible reimposition of USA sanctions.

"The officials say Trump told Netanyahu that until now the three European powers only proposed "cosmetic changes" that he doesn't find satisfactory. It's Trump's line", said another European diplomat.

US President Donald Trump has renewed the national emergency with respect to Iran for one more year, beyond March 15, 2018 according to a Presidential statement dated March 12. If no consensus is reached by that date, Trump is expected to withdraw the USA from the deal.

Earlier that month, Trump announced he would waive the sanctions on Iran as required by the nuclear agreement but for the last time.

Former U.S. officials suggested that, as the administration nears a planned summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un about Pyongyang's nuclear program, it could rethink its stance on the Iran deal.

"President Trump has called on the Congress and our European allies to enact real and lasting restraints on Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions". The US president also threatened to withdraw the US from the agreement if it is not amended.

Omri Ceren, managing director of the Israel Project, a Washington organization that works on Middle East issues, said that with or without Tillerson's exit, the president had made clear he would not keep sanctions relief in place without concrete improvements to the agreement.

The move is the latest in a series of measures by Washington aimed at dealing with one of the greatest diplomatic hurdles before Donald Trump's administration, to contain the regime in Iran while keeping up to America's global commitments within the JCPOA.

USA military commanders and intelligence officers mostly view the Iran deal, officially referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as a useful - if imperfect - check on Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Other European officials and former USA officials said Pompeo's rise, if he is confirmed as secretary of state by the Senate, might have a more ambiguous effect on the negotiations and that, in any case, Trump's views are paramount. That stance was echoed Tuesday by the USA general who heads the US military command responsible for the Middle East and Central Asia.

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