The British government disagrees strongly with President Trump on the Iran nuclear deal, adding further strain to an already fragile transatlantic allianceby Rupert Stone / August 11, 2017 / Leave a comment
During the 2016 election Donald Trump described the Iran nuclear agreement as “the worst deal ever” and vowed to rip it up. But, since entering the White House, he is yet to honour that pledge and has twice certified that Iran is in compliance with its terms. That could change, however, as Trump recently directed some of his advisers to find evidence that Iran is cheating. Although there has not been talk of a military attack, this is worryingly reminiscent of the 2003 Iraq War, when the British and American governments wrongly believed Saddam Hussein had active weapons programs and arguably cherry-picked intelligence to make their case.
But there is one major difference between Iraq and the current situation. While Tony Blair’s government sided firmly with the US in 2002-3, the UK has thus far disagreed with Trump’s position and remains a staunch supporter of the Iran deal. Prime Minister Theresa May described the agreement as “vital” in December, 2016, and defended it strongly in her first meeting with Trump. The British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, issued a rare op-ed in the Washington Post this summer arguing that the deal had successfully prevented Iran from developing nuclear weapons and should be upheld.
Then, last week, Johnson dispatched his deputy, Alistair Burt, to attend the inauguration of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, where he joined other European ministers, including EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (the US was absent). Indeed, Europe has been especially outspoken in its support for the nuclear deal and, despite Brexit, Britain finds itself firmly in Brussels’ camp. Trump’s relations with the continent have been poor, especially after he withdrew from the Paris climate accord in June. Germany and France went so far as to publicly criticise new US sanctions against Iran and Russia passed by Congress last week.