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Trump’s departure from the agreement with Iran is a bitter setback for Europeans

Ⓒ AFP – SAUL LOEB – | US President Donald Trump after announcing the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran on May 8, 2018 in the White House

The decision of Donald Trump to get out of the Iranian nuclear agreement is a bitter setback for France, Germany and the United Kingdom that deployed intense diplomatic efforts to convince the US president not to throw the text overboard.

After the announcement made by Trump with a great drama from the White House, Berlin, Paris and London issued a joint statement in which they expressed that “remain committed to ensuring that the agreement is respected.”

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, who was employed in depth since his election a year ago to cultivate a fluid relationship with his US counterpart, failed in his attempt to change the opinion of Trump in his recent visit to Washington.

“France, Germany and the United Kingdom regret the US decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement” with Iran, and go to work “collectively” to reach a “broader” agreement, Macron said in a tweet.

Berlin and London, the other two signatory European countries, suffered the same frustration to see how the agreement concluded in 2015 with Tehran, together with the United States, China and Russia, is on fire, despite the intense diplomatic marathon.

Shortly after Macron’s visit, it was Merkel who tried to convince Trump during a brief trip to Washington leaving the British Foreign Minister, Boris Johnson, a last chance to plead to stay in the pact, asking “not to throw the grain with straw. ”

To try to save the text, the Europeans approached Trump to offer to renegotiate the deal to light “a new agreement” that took into account the concerns of the United States about the development of ballistic missiles by Tehran, in addition to its supposed role ” destabilizing “in the Middle East, specifically in Syria and in Yemen.

With or without the United States, Paris and Berlin plan to continue their efforts to preserve the negotiated text with Tehran, which is aimed at guaranteeing the non-military character of its nuclear program, as well as avoiding an escalation in the region.

– The problem of sanctions –

This Tuesday morning, when the agreement was already staggering, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, warned that this step “could only be a factor of aggravation of a situation that is already tense.”

In the first row of these regional tensions, Israel, which regards Iran as its nemesis, often accuses it of reinforcing its presence in Syria, a neighboring country, which according to Tehran suffers periodic attacks by the Israeli army against Iranian targets.

“If the agreement falls without a substitution solution, there is a risk of triggering a race for the nuclear weapon in the region,” said a senior European official in Brussels.

But, Europe may have its hands tied as the United States announced the restoration of sanctions against Iran, which could block the economic benefits promised to Tehran in exchange for the abandonment of its military nuclear program.

Wishing to be solicitous with Tehran, the European partners said on Tuesday that they wanted to “maintain the economic benefits” to benefit the Iranian population.

But “the pressure is rising as there are forces in Iran who never liked this agreement and who insist that the Iranians did their part, and we did not,” the European official warned.

Iran hoped to boost the growth of its economy by increasing trade and having the ability to sign contracts with foreign companies, but European firms could be deterred because of the possibility that their US subsidiaries pay the cost.

The US government said Tuesday that the sanctions would be effective immediately for the new contracts and that foreign companies will have a few months to “leave” Iran.

“Companies are going to have to balance their economic interests in Iran and their possible economic interests in the United States, and, in general, that decision is taken quickly,” said a French diplomatic source.

For Robert Malley, a former US negotiator with Iran under the administration of Barack Obama and chairman of the think tank International Crisis Group (ICG), there was no doubt that Trump was going to break the pact.

“Now the Europeans have to make Iran stay in the agreement” if they really want to save it, Malley said in an interview with AFP in Washington before the announcement.

“Our message to the Iranians is this: it is better to have a certain continuity in trade relations with Europe and to isolate the United States than to be isolated and have Europeans and Americans on their backs,” said the expert.

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