Europe Fights Back on Iran Sanctions
European governments are trying to find a way to get around U.S. Iran sanctions:
Germany and France said they’re working on financing solutions to sidestep U.S. sanctions against countries such as Iran, including a possible role for central banks.
The discussions, which also involve the U.K., are a signal that European powers are trying to get serious about demonstrating a greater level of independence from the U.S. as President Donald Trump pursues his “America First” agenda.
Our European allies have every reason to resist U.S. bullying over Iran sanctions. The fact that they are going to these lengths to oppose the Trump administration should tell us just how absurd and irrational our government’s Iran policy is. The U.S. violated the nuclear deal earlier this year, and now it is trying to force the other parties to violate it as well. These governments aren’t taking the attempt to dictate their interests to them well, and all that the Trump administration is achieving is fraying relations with some of our most important allies and trading partners because of the bizarre Iran obsession.
Our allies negotiated the JCPOA together with the U.S., and they are the ones remaining true to the commitments they made as part of that agreement. France, Germany, and Britain are not doing this because they have any great need to do business with Iran, but because they regard U.S. attempts to coerce them into complying with Trump’s destructive decision to renege on the nuclear deal as an illegal and obnoxious interference in their affairs. European resistance on this issue is also clear proof that our government’s overuse and misuse of sanctions is beginning to make otherwise cooperative governments reconsider their support for these measures.
France’s foreign minister stated their position very clearly yesterday. The French government sees this as a question of asserting their sovereignty against an attempt to impose U.S. policy preferences on them against their will:
“With Germany, we are determined to work on an independent European or Franco-German financing tool which would allow us to avoid being the collateral victims of U.S. extra-territorial sanctions,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday during a meeting with press association AJEF. “I want Europe to be a sovereign continent not a vassal [bold mine-DL], and that means having totally independent financing instruments that do not today exist.”
Our allies see U.S. secondary sanctions as an attack on them and their interests, and we should not be surprised when they take action to resist that attack. Like so many other rifts with other governments, the rift with Europe over Iran sanctions is entirely unnecessary and could be fixed very quickly if the U.S. ceased its violations of the nuclear deal. Trump’s reckless rejection of a successful nonproliferation agreement continues to have costs for the U.S. and damages our relationships with other major powers for no good reason.