European leaders met Iran’s foreign minister earlier this month to show support for the nuclear deal in effort to soften Donald Trump’s aversion to the accord but the gathering in Brussels did little to dissuade American president, in fact it may have even reinforced his antipathy. Instead, President Trump gave his European allies – Great Britain, France and Germany – as well as the US Congress 120 days to come up with a tougher stance on Tehran or re-impose US sanctions.
To appease the American president, France, Germany and the UK have taken up to address Iran’s ballistic missile tests and Iran’s regional influence while preserving what Donald Trump called “the worst deal ever negotiated” – the 2015 accord that tamed Iran’s nuclear ambitions for at least ten years. It is hard to say what could potentially soothe the White House, which is split between those who would like to get rid of the agreement and those who would like to keep it. Moreover, from the perspective of European allies, the Trump administration has been rather inconsistent in its communication about the deal.
Under US law, President must decide again whether to renew the US sanctions relief every 120 days, giving both Europe and Congress time till mid-May to see if there is a way to find a workaround. However, the meeting in early January left EU diplomats wary that whatever they would come up with, might not be enough. “We’re going to work in the spirit that we’re ready to talk about everything, from the nuclear accord to Iran’s ballistic missiles,” said a senior European diplomat. “But we want to compartmentalize the subjects; we’re not going to mix them.”