The United States may have pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, but Iran continues to remain a signatory, if not a particularly happy one.
Tehran’s strategy, at this point, seems to be to threaten to break the strictures of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action if it doesn’t get what it wants — which, presumably, is more sanctions relief and for Washington to sign back onto the original terms of the agreement.
That’s unlikely to happen given the events of January, which will end with Iran facing more sanctions instead of less.
Among the actions they took in the wake of the airstrike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was to announce they no longer considered themselves bound by the treaty and presumably would accelerate production of a nuclear weapon.
Shortly thereafter, several European signatories to the plan — the United Kingdom, France and Germany — triggered a provision in the agreement that could lead to a reimposition of United Nations sanctions on Iran.
It came out in a Washington Post article published Wednesday that the Trump administration reportedly pressured the European nations to hold Iran accountable under the rules of the deal.
Whether or not this was successful or a major factor in the decision to trigger the clause in the agreement is a matter of some dispute.
However, it was the article’s meta description that should have raised a lot of eyebrows.
First, the scoop by The Post’s John Hudson and Souad Mekhennet: “A week before Germany, France and Britain formally accused Iran of breaching the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration issued a private threat to the Europeans that shocked officials in all three countries,” they wrote.
“If they refused to call out Tehran and initiate an arcane dispute mechanism in the deal, the United States would impose a 25 percent tariff on European automobiles, the Trump officials warned, according to European officials familiar with the conversations.
“Within days, the three countries would formally accuse Iran of violating the deal, triggering a recourse provision that could reimpose United Nations sanctions on Iran and unravel the last remaining vestiges of the Obama-era agreement,” the article continued.
“The U.S. effort to coerce European foreign policy through tariffs, a move one European official equated to ‘extortion,’ represents a new level of hardball tactics with the United States’ oldest allies, underscoring the extraordinary tumult in the transatlantic relationship.”
As always, The Washington Post lets us know how they really feel.
However, the real editorializing came in the meta description for the article, which you can see just underneath it in this Twitter post:
SCOOP: Days before Europeans warned Iran of nuclear deal violations, Trump secretly threatened to impose 25% tariff on European autos if they didn’t. 1/https://t.co/lc0QbTAwXq
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) January 15, 2020
“In effort to destroy the Iran deal, Trump threatened a 25% tariff on automobiles if Europe didn’t call out Tehran’s violations,” it read.
Wait, Trump was trying to destroy the Iran deal?
Where was this in the article?
The answer is that it wasn’t — this was The Post’s (quite incorrect) interpretation of events.
Whether or not you agree with the move or not — Hudson and Mekhennet say the effort could have potentially derailed a decision to invoke the “arcane dispute mechanism,” since European countries didn’t want to be seen as being pressured by Washington — this had nothing to do with destroying the Iran deal.
It was merely an attempt to get the signatories to live up to its precepts.
In fact, the joint statement put out by the three nations was critical of the United States and stressed the fact that the European countries wanted to bring the Iranians back into compliance with the agreement.
“Together, we have stated unequivocally our regret and concern at the decision by the United States to withdraw from the JCPoA and to re-impose sanctions on Iran,” the statement, issued Tuesday, read.
“Since May 2018, we have worked together to preserve the agreement. The E3 have fully upheld our JCPoA commitments, including sanctions-lifting as foreseen under the terms of the agreement.”
They added that they “remain fully committed to this diplomatic effort and intend to resume it as soon as conditions allow.
“However, in the meantime Iran has continued to break key restrictions set out in the JCPoA. Iran’s actions are inconsistent with the provisions of the nuclear agreement and have increasingly severe and non-reversible proliferation implications,” the statement continued.
And what role did the Trump administration play in this?
“The consensus among the Europeans about the need to hold Tehran accountable took form weeks ago and was driven by Iran’s escalatory behavior and violations of the nuclear deal,” one U.S. official told The Post.
The Post claimed the Trump administration’s pressure almost scuttled the deal.
“We didn’t want to look weak, so we agreed to keep the existence of the threat a secret,” a European official said.
However, officials claimed they decided to go through with it and kept the pressure from the Trump administration a secret.
Whether or not the pressure made any difference, what the Trump administration was doing was what the Democrats claim to want: coordination with other powers to stop Iran from breaking the terms of the Iran nuclear deal.
If they weren’t willing to go through with it, the United States was willing to step up and ensure that they followed through on enforcement.
This is now akin to trying to destroy a deal that the left seems to love.
If there’s any hope of salvaging the Iran deal — or something resembling it — Tehran needs to abide by the rules.
If they don’t, sanctions need to be placed on them.
That’s not too difficult to understand — and that certainly isn’t trying to destroy the deal.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.