The Trump administration on Tuesday pressed ahead with efforts to convince European allies to add tough new requirements to the Iran nuclear deal, a move met with deep skepticism in France where the foreign minister insisted “signatories must stand by their word.”
The French foreign minister’s remarks sum up much of what’s wrong with the Trump administration’s position. If our allies did as Trump wished, they would be violating their own commitments under the deal and would be trying to impose new conditions on Iran after the fact. Trump is not only insisting on demands that everyone knows Iran will never accept, but he is trying to goad our allies into going back on their word in a vain attempt at a do-over. European governments aren’t going to play along, and it is important that they refuse to cave to pressure from the administration. If the nuclear deal is to have a good chance of surviving U.S. withdrawal, European governments’ continued support for the JCPOA is essential to keeping it alive. When Trump eventually withdraws from the deal as he has repeatedly threatened to do, our allies must not give him any cover for his reckless and irresponsible action.
It should be noted that the “tough new requirements” in question are really just unreasonable demands made by petulant hard-liners that didn’t get their way the first time around. There is nothing particularly tough about throwing a fit over the terms of a negotiated agreement because it didn’t force the other side into total capitulation. This is whining, not toughness. It is typical that the “toughest” hawks on any given issue are the first to moan about the unfairness of international agreements, because when all is said and done they loathe the compromise that any successful diplomatic agreement requires. Our allies don’t share that contempt for diplomacy, and they rightly conclude that the deal is succeeding in doing what its supporters said it would, so they see no reason to “fix” something that isn’t broken.