Transatlantic rift laid bare as US rebukes EU allies over Iran deal
The United States has called on Europe to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which Washington pulled out of last year.
At a two-day conference in Warsaw, attended by more than 60 nations Thursday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence accused European allies of trying to break American sanctions against what he called “Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime.”
“The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and join with us as we bring economic and diplomatic pressure necessary to give the Iranian people, the region and the world the security, peace and freedom they deserve,” Pence said at a news conference.
Pompeo adds pressure
Also attending the conference, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said global pressure was mounting on Tehran.
“No country spoke out and denied any of the basic facts that we all have laid out about Iran, the threat it poses, the nature of regime. It was unanimous,” Pompeo said.
Unanimous, perhaps, among those countries attending the conference. Some U.S. allies, however, were notable for their absence, including the foreign ministers of France and Germany. Britain’s representative left the summit early.
All three allies have voiced strong support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and have launched a payment system to bypass U.S. sanctions on Tehran in an attempt to keep the agreement alive.
Warsaw-based analyst Piotr Buras of the European Council on Foreign Relations says summit host Poland and some other European states appear closer to Washington’s approach and the United States sees an opportunity.
“I have the feeling that the Trump administration doesn’t care much about Europe’s unity, or even more perhaps it really tries to exploit some divisions within Europe, or even deepen them,” he said.
Jonathan Eyal of Britain’s Royal United Services Institute argued Washington’s approach is in fact aimed at bridging transatlantic divides with European allies.
“The United States is willing to re-engage with them on a Middle East policy, especially on a very sensitive issue like the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran where the gulf between Europe and the U.S. is very big,” he sad. “And secondly it is also another attempt by the State Department to remind the White House that the friends in Europe are irreplaceable when it comes to most of America’s foreign policy objectives.”
The summit was attended by Israel and several Sunni Gulf states. Qatar, Turkey and Lebanon declined to take part. Iran, which did not attend the meeting, dismissed it as “dead on arrival.”
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