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Trump to pull out of Iran nuclear deal if Europeans won’t cooperate: officials

President Donald Trump (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
March 01, 2018

The Trump Administration may be closer than ever to pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.

This week, senior Trump Administration officials were reportedly pressuring Europeans allies to agree to a range of fixes for the deal. However, key European governments have expressed opposition to the Trump Administration’s efforts, prompting the U.S. to potentially walk away from any agreements entirely.

According to senior administration officials and top lawmakers who spoke to the Free Beacon, the U.S.’ main concerns over the Iran nuclear deal have been the key loopholes that have allowed Iran to continue nuclear research and develop advanced weaponry. The Trump Administration hopes that its European allies might also be interested in addressing Iran’s military activity in the Middle East and its increasing interest in nuclear weapon development. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case.

Key European allies in recent days have instead expressed opposition to the Trump Administration’s plan to impose new sanctions on Iran. They prefer the U.S. goes along with weaker changes to the deal that may even be attractive to Iran.

In response to Europe’s apparent soft stance and disinterest in drastically changing the Iran deal, senior administration officials have made it clear that America will walk away from the agreement if its allies fail to make the necessary changes. According to sources familiar with the situation, the U.S. is preparing the international community for such an outcome, which may come within the next few months.

“We are dedicated to working with our allies to neutralize and counter the regime’s destabilizing influence and support for terrorist proxies, restore a more stable balance of power in the region, and secure agreement with European allies to address the flaws of the nuclear deal in the next 120 days or U.S. will withdraw from the deal,” a senior White House National Security Council official told the Free Beacon.

The State Department is reported to be in agreement with White House’s stance, stating that the U.S. will stop providing Iran with sanctions relief and kill the deal.

“This is a last chance,” a State Department official said. “In the absence of a commitment from our European allies to work with us to fix the deal’s flaws, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time the president judges that agreement is not within reach, the United States will withdraw from the deal immediately.”

Many top lawmakers in Congress have also expressed their support with the decision to abandon the deal and hope that the U.S. will face the pressure from Europeans allies head-on.

“Nations in the European Union have traditionally taken a soft stance towards the Iranian regime, and so it is not surprising that they refuse to recognize the folly of the Obama-Khamenei nuclear deal,” Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Republican from Florida and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said. “The Trump Administration should lead the way and seek significant new sanctions that punishes Iran for its belligerent conduct. We shouldn’t let European intransigence prevent us from doing the right thing.”

Sen. David Perdue also warned of the shortcomings of the Iranian nuclear deals.

“Iran’s ballistic missile program, sponsorship of terrorism, and support for brutal dictators run counter to the security interests we share with our European partners,” a Perdue spokesperson said. “Iran must be held accountable. There is no way around it. Senator Perdue urges our European partners to rethink their stance and work with us to get tougher on Iran. Reining in this bad actor will require the cooperation of all our allies.”

In addition to cracking down on Iran’s increasing ballistic missile program, the U.S. wants its European allies to stop funding Iranian entities tied to the Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC. Recently, the Trump Administration stressed the importance of declaring the IRGC a terrorist group, as well.

It remains to be seen whether or not the Trump administration will follow through with the promise of abandoning the deal. Nonetheless, negotiations continue with officials, leaving all options on the table.