Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Rhetoric over US exit from Iran deal rises amid sanctions threat

President Donald Trump's announcement last Tuesday that the United States was exiting the 2015 nuclear accord was met with widespread dismay in Europe where companies now face the threat of sanctions if they do business with Iran.

White House national security adviser John Bolton said USA sanctions on European companies that maintain business dealings with Iran were "possible", while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he remained hopeful Washington and its allies could strike a new nuclear deal with Tehran.

Bolton struck a hawkish tone with his comments in an interview with CNN's "State of the Union" program.

Germany, France and Britain were three of the six signatories to the 2015 pact which saw sanctions lifted in return for the commitment by Tehran not to acquire nuclear weapons.

Despite the USA exit, Britain and Iran expressed their commitment to ensuring that the accord is upheld, according to a statement released by British Prime Minister Theresa May's office.

Germany said it will spend the next few months trying to persuade Washington to change its mind. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas acknowledged, however, that protecting European companies from potential United States penalties could be hard.

In a Fox News interview in January, Bolton said the United States should take steps such as increasing economic pressure on Iran and providing support to opponents of the government. "It depends on the conduct of other governments".

Trump on May 8 announced his intention to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, calling the multilateral pact "defective at its core" and unable to fully prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The White House said Trump had spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday and "reiterated the need for a comprehensive deal that addresses all aspects of Iran's destabilizing activity in the Middle East".

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As to the idea of whether or not Iran felt less constrained now that the Trump administration pulled out of the Iran Deal, Pompeo had a concise answer: "That's ludicrous". "Now, that will not happen!"

The United States' top diplomat said Sunday Washington still wants to work with its European partners on an agreement to counter Iran's "malign behavior" as President Donald Trump justified his decision to withdraw from the landmark nuclear deal.

"We hope recent events will lead us not to trust in the West and even Europeans", he said Sunday, according to the conservative-linked Fars news agency.

Trump weighed in later Sunday, saying his decision would limit Iran's regional ambitions. Macron told Trump in their telephone call on Saturday that he was anxious about stability in the Middle East, according to Macron's office.

This was part of the flaw of the deal to entice Europe and the United States into economic relations with Iran that eventually would have worked against really holding Iran accountable for violations of the deal.

We all share the common objective of making sure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, are anxious about their terribly destabilising and threatening military behaviour across the region and their ballistic missile program.

For average Iranians, many of whom attended Friday's demonsrations, wrote Amir Ahmadi Arian and Rahman Bouzari in the New York Times on Thursday, the news of Trump's move "elicited feelings of bitterness and resignation".

Trump's decision to end US compliance with the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was made over the objections of global leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who personally lobbied the president to honor the agreement-as well as 63 percent of Americans, according to a CNN poll.

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