Germany: Trump’s Iran plans driving EU toward Russia and China

German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel delivers his speech during the opening of the Deutschland 8: Deutsche Kunst in China exhibition at the Imperial Ancestral Temple Art Museum in Beijing, China, 17 September 2017. [How Hwee Young/EPA/EFE]

US President Donald Trump’s expected move to “de-certify” the international nuclear deal with Iran is driving a wedge between Europe and the United States and bringing Europeans closer to Russia and China, Germany said on Thursday (12 October).

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has spoken out repeatedly against Trump’s likely step, but his latest comments aimed to spell out the impact it would have in starker terms.

“It’s imperative that Europe sticks together on this issue,” Gabriel, a Social Democrat, told the RND German newspaper group. “We also have to tell the Americans that their behaviour on the Iran issue will drive us Europeans into a common position with Russia and China against the USA.”

Trump is seen unveiling a broad strategy on confronting Iran this week, likely on Friday, including a move to de-certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 accord, which he has called an “embarrassment” and the “worst deal ever negotiated”.

Trump expected to decertify Iran nuclear deal, official says

President Donald Trump is expected to announce soon that he will decertify the landmark international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, a senior administration official said yesterday (5 October), in a step that potentially could cause the 2015 accord to unravel.

Senior US officials, European allies and prominent US lawmakers have told Trump that refusing to certify the deal would leave the US isolated, concede the diplomatic high ground to Tehran, and ultimately risk the unravelling of the agreement.

Mogherini: No need to renegotiate Iran nuclear deal

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Wednesday (20 September) that there was no need to renegotiate the Iranian nuclear deal, insisting it was “delivering” despite US demands to re-open the agreement.

The UN nuclear watchdog has repeatedly certified that Iran is adhering to restrictions on its nuclear energy programme mandated by the deal to help ensure it cannot be put to developing atomic bombs.

Signed by the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, the European Union and Iran, the deal lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear work.

Germany has close economic and business ties with Russia, although relations have soured since Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. Berlin is also working to expand ties with China.

Gabriel is expected to leave his post in coming months since his Social Democrats have vowed to go into opposition after slumping badly in the 24 September election, opting not to reprise an awkward “grand coalition” with Merkel’s conservatives.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) reached a deal on migrant policy with her conservative Bavarian allies on Sunday (8 November), removing a major obstacle to pursuing talks on a coalition with other parties.

In an apparent concession, Merkel agreed to put a number on how many people Germany would accept per year on humanitarian …

Gabriel on Monday urged the White House not to jeopardise the nuclear agreement, saying such a move would worsen instability in the Middle East and could make it more difficult to halt nuclear arms programmes in other countries.

In the interview released on Thursday, he said the nuclear agreement was being treated “like a football” in US domestic politics, but the issue could have serious consequences.

He said Russia was watching developments closely, including the divisions between Europe and the United States. “That doesn’t exactly strengthen our position in Europe.”

Ultimately, Gabriel told the newspaper group, there were only three countries – the United States, Russia and China – that could avert a new nuclear arms race.

“But those countries mistrust each other so much at the moment that they are not working together sufficiently. It must be in our interest to press for more trust.”