The Trump administration antagonized major allies with its decision to renege on the nuclear deal, and they are so oblivious to the consequences of Trump’s decision that they are trying to get allied help to put more pressure on Iran:
Having returned from North Korea on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will begin talks in coming days to persuade allies in Europe, the Middle East and Asia to press Iran to return to negotiations over its nuclear and missile programs, U.S. officials said.
The open question is whether the allies, and above all Iran, will agree to resume full-fledged talks, having just seen the United States withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and renege on its promises under the landmark arms control accord.
Pompeo won’t be successful, and it’s difficult to see why he is bothering. None of the other parties to the deal has any interest in negotiating a new agreement, and they certainly won’t want to bother negotiating with this administration when they have seen how unreliable it is. Our European allies just went through months of meaningless talks with the U.S. over supposed “fixes” to the existing agreement only to see their efforts dismissed and their preferences ignored. They are working on ways to salvage the deal that Trump just sabotaged, and they aren’t going to waste more time and political capital cooperating with an administration that just shafted them for no good reason. No Iranian leader can afford to be seen making an agreement with the U.S. for the foreseeable future. Trump has made it politically toxic for anyone in Iran to support negotiations with the U.S. when he reneged on our government’s commitments. As far as all of the other parties are concerned, there is no need for a new deal, and none of them would trust the U.S. to honor a new deal even if one could be negotiated.
The administration may think that it can “drag” Iran to the table, but past experience shows that coercive and punitive measures just make the Iranian government less cooperative and more determined to resist U.S. demands. Since the U.S. has so few other governments on its side after abandoning the nuclear deal, there isn’t going to be much international support for a new effort to pressure Iran on anything. It turns out that flagrantly violating U.S. obligations and spitting in the faces of all of our negotiating partners is a poor way to build trust. The U.S. is more distrusted and has less international support than before Trump reneged on the deal, and he and his allies have no one but themselves to blame for this situation.