U.S. Coercion: Trump Threatened Tariffs On European Powers Over Iran Deal

Shortly following the U.S. assassination of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, three European signatories to the Iran Nuclear Deal, France, Britain, and Germany, announced that they would be triggering the dispute resolution mechanism within the treaty. The dispute mechanism will mean that the signatories have 30 days to resolve the issue. Failure to do so could see the issue brought before the UN security council and eventually a reimposition of sanctions—in essence, destroying the deal.

The European powers claimed that the dispute was triggered in response to renewed violations of the 2015 deal by Iran, who earlier announced that they would ignore the limitations set on the amount of enriched uranium they could produce. Since the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the deal and the reimposition of sanctions, Iran has gradually been shirking its commitments to nuclear non-proliferation. In response to the dispute mechanism, Iran hit back at the hypocrisy of the European powers, highlighting that European powers have failed to uphold their part of the treaty and deliver on promised sanctions relief in return for Iran abandoning its nuclear program, as outlined in the deal. This European failure to adhere to its side of the deal can also be linked to the United States, who, following its own withdrawal, has worked to prevent the EU from fulfilling its commitments by threatening European companies doing business with Iran.

U.S. coercion has effectively played a part in every step towards dismantling the deal.  Germany’s defence minister confirmed an earlier report by the Washington Post that President Trump threatened to impose a 25 per cent tariffs on all European car exports if Britain, France, and Germany did not formally trigger a dispute and declare Iran to be in violation of the deal. And thus, with this, the Trump administration has single-handedly been able to dictate European foreign policy and destroy the Iranian Nuclear Deal, despite no longer even being a part of it.

In the pursuit of American interests—or more accurately, the interests of Trump’s key donors and lobbyists in Washington—the U.S. administration under Trump has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to relying on economic warfare as a means to achieve any such of its solipsistic policy goals, even against some of its closest allies in Europe. Just a few weeks ago, Trump resorted to identical tactics as a means to sabotage the Nord Stream 2 LNG pipeline—a joint project between Western Europe and Russia. While much of Trump’s destructive actions, particularly in relation to the Middle East and Iran, seem counterproductive and downright dangerous, if one takes a sideways glance at his key backers, it becomes clear that much Trump’s policy is in the service of his wealthy, economic benefactors. While most states look on with fear at unprovoked assassinations of state officials and the sabotaging of deals designed to prevent nuclear proliferation, billionaire donors such as Sheldon Adelson, and key U.S. allies in Israel and Saudi Arabia, look on with glee.

Ultimately, behind Trump’s facade of ‘America First’ and the formulation of ‘good deals’, his actions thus far have demonstrated that he is more than willing to jeopardise peace and close alliances and perpetuate instability, as long as the price is right. In essence, we are beginning to see that the U.S. is proving itself to be an unreliable and erratic superpower, which is ultimately an unsustainable position if one expects to be a global hegemon. Assassinating state officials and treating their close allies as puppet states is something the U.S. was able to get away with without consequences when it was at the height of its power during the Cold War, however, as the U.S. begins losing the keen vision for world leadership that it once had, the global community will begin to turn away from it, and look for options elsewhere.