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July 11, 2018

The Iran deal


July 11, 2018

For once, world powers have stood up to the US by challenging its decision to scrap the nuclear deal with Iran. Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China met Iranian officials in Vienna to confirm that they will keep Iran in the global economy, despite American threats. These assurances will somewhat ease the blow of the US sanctions. One would also hope that such distancing from US directives becomes a more significant feature of the international political order. European powers have been happy to tow the line from the US, but the Trump administration has finally weakened American influence on European policy. Trump’s showmanship-only approach to diplomacy has alienated everyone else. He hailed a fairly meaningless document signed with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un but scrapped a fairly robust nuclear treaty with Iran. International politics seem more like a reality TV show.

Whether the support by the rest of the Western powers will be enough to keep the Iran nuclear deal in place remains to be seen, but it is good to see major international accords play out with the US relegated to the sidelines. Trump’s so-called promise to renegotiate a stronger nuclear deal will have no backers – and, frankly, would be unnecessary. What should still be a worry is that the US could still pressure many smaller countries to refuse to trade with Iran. The same influence would be felt by many multinational corporations. The American influence clearly showed during the ongoing Fifa World Cup 2018 where Nike and Adidas refused to supply shoes to the Iranian football team. The US market is not one that private companies and national economies want to be banned from. Perhaps the Trump administration is relying on this in its refusal to reconsider its position on the Iran nuclear deal. The five other countries have agreed to a set of joint goals, which includes protecting companies from the effects of US sanctions. Iran has hailed the five countries for their decision to resist the US. But this has not stopped the country from demanding more in terms of economic guarantees – in terms of oil purchasing and a broader economic package for the country. One of the most crucial parts will be to move ahead with implementing measures to protect companies from US sanctions. This is what will prove that the commitment to Iran is more than just saying the right things. Keeping the deal in place is not an easy task after the US withdrawal, but the five countries have taken an important first step.

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