President Donald Trump managed to get the country’s European allies to pretty much side with Russia and Iran after he threatened to leave the nuclear agreement with Tehran. And it isn’t difficult to see why. Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, warned Saturday that if Washington does move forward with its threat to end the deal or reimpose sanctions, there is an increased risk of war close to Europe. Trump’s refusal to certify that Iran was complying with the 2015 agreement, amounted to a “difficult and dangerous signal” at a time when the United States is also trying to prevent the North Korea nuclear crisis from escalating.
“My big concern is that what is happening in Iran, or with Iran from the U.S. perspective, will not remain an Iranian issue but many others in the world will consider whether they themselves should acquire nuclear weapons too, given that such agreements are being destroyed,” Gabriel told a German radio station. If the United States does make good on its threats, then suddenly Iranian hardliners who are opposed to any negotiations would win the upper hand and the country could once again develop nuclear weapons, which Israel obviously would oppose. “Then we will be back where we were 10, 12 years ago with the danger of war relatively close to Europe,” he added.
The criticism from German’s foreign minister follows a pattern of European leaders making it clear that they have no intention of following Trump’s lead to get rid of the Iran nuclear deal. In fact, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said that the United States does not even have the right to unilaterally dismantle a deal that was the product of arduous negotiations between multiple states. “It is not a bilateral agreement. It does not belong to any single country. And it is not up to any single country to terminate it,” Mongherini said. “It is a multilateral agreement, which was unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.”
Even though the leaders didn’t outright criticize Trump, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron issued a rare joint statement Friday saying they “stand committed” to preserving the nuclear deal. And Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said the threat to undo the deal showed why the United States has become “more lonely than ever” on the international stage. “This is an international, multilateral deal,” Rouhani said of the agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. “It is not a document between Iran and the United States that he can treat the way that he likes.”