February 7, 2019
By Fred Fleitz
Europe is coming to acknowledge and act on the nuclear threat posed by Tehran.
Despite howls of protest by the Left, the foreign-policy establishment, and European leaders, and contrary to misleading assessments by U.S. intelligence it is now clear that President Trump’s decision last May to withdraw the United States from the controversial 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (the JCPOA) was the right call and is a huge policy success.
Trump’s JCPOA withdrawal did not lead to war with Iran, as many critics predicted. Instead, Iran is far more isolated than it was when President Trump assumed office. The United States has worked to unite its Middle East allies, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia, against Iran and, in Warsaw this month, will co-chair an international conference with Poland on the threat from Iran. Iran’s economy is under unprecedented pressure thanks to reimposed U.S. sanctions, especially oil sanctions, with negative 1.5 percent growth in 2018 and an expected negative 3.6 percent growth in 2019. Iran’s current year-on-year inflation rate through last month was 40 percent.
Some Trump critics predicted that any effort by the president to reimpose U.S. sanctions lifted by the JCPOA would have little effect, since other parties to the agreement — in particular the EU, Germany, France, and the U.K. — would not follow suit. But numerous European companies have resisted pressure from their governments to defy reimposed U.S. sanctions. On January 31, European leaders announced a special finance facility to help European firms skirt U.S. sanctions on Iran, but that initiative is months behind schedule and few experts believe it will work.
Instead, as a result of reimposed U.S. sanctions, European airlines Air France, British Airways, and KLM ended service to Iran last year. European companies Total, Siemens, and Volkswagen also withdrew from Iran, along with U.S. companies GE, Boeing, and Honeywell and the Russian oil firm Lukoil. In November, Germany’s Bundesbank changed its rules so it could reject an Iranian request to withdraw 300 million euros from Hamburg-based trade bank Europäische-Iranische Handelsbank, to protect the central bank’s relationships with institutions in “third countries.” That is, the United States.
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