A series of phone calls between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, English Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron, over the weekend, ended with an agreement about the importance of the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) as the best way of neutralising the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, agreeing that our priority as an international community remained preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
The latter is under threat, following the stated intentions of US President Donald Trump to ditch it after having criticised and labelled it as terrible both during the campaign and in the months that followed.
The three European leaders also agreed that the Iran nuclear deal is the “best way” to prevent the country from becoming armed with nuclear weapons.
A statement issued by Downing Street, confirmed that the UK Prime Minister held separate phone calls with the French President Emmanuel Macron and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They agreed that there were important elements that the deal does not cover, but which we need to address – including ballistic missiles, what happens when the deal expires, and Iran’s destabilising regional activity. The statement adds that acknowledging the importance of retaining the JCPoA, they committed to continue working closely together and with the US on how to tackle the range of challenges that Iran poses – including those issues that a new deal might cover.
The Trump administration believes that the Iranian nuclear deal should become ineffective, in view of the fact that as Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said on Sunday: “unlike the prior administration, we will not neglect the vast scope of Iran’s terrorism. It is indeed the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world, and we are determined to make sure it never possesses a nuclear weapon. The Iran deal in its current form does not provide that assurance.”
He added: “We will continue to work with our European allies to fix that deal, but if a deal cannot be reached, the president has said that he will leave that deal.”
As Britain is preparing for its exit from the EU, the three European leaders agreed to retain a common position and ‘keep working together as they did since 2003’.
The Financial Times reports that ” significant divisions remain within the EU, with Italy heading a group of countries opposed to new sanctions — some of which argue that Mr Trump will leave the deal no matter what additional measures the bloc imposes. “We do not agree with new EU sanctions against Iran and we are not alone,” a senior Italian official told the Financial Times last week. “Our position hasn’t changed.”
But the Iran deal wasn’t the only issue under discussion. The current proposals for introduction of tariffs on European steel and aluminium industries were also discussed. The leaders pledged to continue to work closely with the rest of the EU and the US Administration with the aim of a permanent exemption from US tariffs.
Angela Merkel has suggested Europe could enter a trade war with the US if Washington does not continue to exempt the EU from import tariffs it has placed on much of the rest of the world. The German chancellor said she had the support of both Theresa May and French president Emmanuel Macron. Europe has so far been let off steep aluminium and steel tariffs imposed by the US on countries including China and Canada.
Indicative in these calls and in this statement, is the reference and formation of the E3. The Downing Street statement said that the three leaders all agreed on the value of continued engagement in the E3 format (Britain, France and Germany) to advance their shared interests and our security. One needs to see this development in the context of BREXIT and the shifting powers in international diplomacy, which remain fluid and somehow different, depending on the issues under discussion.