Can the Iran deal be saved?

Representatives of Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia will meet in Vienna this week to discuss reactions to the US's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran. In the run-up to the meeting the EU has stressed that it intends to honour the deal. Journalists are not sure if it can, however, and fear an Iraq-like scenario.

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Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

What does Tehran gain from sticking to deal now?

In view of pressure from the US Europeans will no doubt put an end to their recently begun economic engagement in Iran - which means the deal is at risk, Radio Kommersant FM predicts:

“Iran is suffering considerable economic damage, its income will shrink. So the Islamic republic will have fewer possibilities to realise its ambitious goals in the region and finance allies and satellites in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. Under these circumstances it's unclear what Tehran stands to gain from unilaterally adhering to the terms of the nuclear deal. ... Perhaps the diplomats from the five mediating states will come up with strong arguments to persuade the Iranians - and thus save the deal. But that seems unlikely right now.”

The New York Times (US) /

Warmongering has already had disastrous consequences

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday threatened Iran with "the worst sanctions in history". The New York Times is reminded of the US's fatal way of dealing with Iraq in 2003:

“The real goal seems to be to break the regime or force it to resume the nuclear program, thus giving the United States and Israel an excuse for military action. The world's experience with regime change in Iraq should make clear why this is a terrible idea. Along with waging war on a false premise, causing tens of thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars in wasted funds, and enabling the spread of Islamist militants, it's a major reason Iran has gained a foothold in Iraq today.”

Diena (LV) /

Europe's resistance won't last long

Diena explains why the US isn't afraid to antagonise its allies in Europe:

“The US can't hope to receive the support of the UN Security Council. Because not only China and Russia are against the cancellation of the Iran agreement. Also the US's key allies in Europe, the British, won't go along with it in this case. ... Unlike the US, the Europeans have invested billions of euros in Iran, and of course they don't want to lose this money because of Trump's whims. Nevertheless the US has its own methods for convincing Europe, so the resistance won't last for long. On top of that, the Trump administration believes that popular discontent could lead to the collapse of the Iranian regime.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

America is not invulnerable

Escalating tensions between the EU and the US will be more dangerous for the latter, political scientist Stephanos Konstantinidis surmises in Phileleftheros:

“The US president is threatening Iran, but at the same time he's also threatening Europe, which doesn't want to exit the agreement with Iran or impose sanctions. Since dozens of European companies already have business interests in Iran, an American-European trade war is looming. ... Such a war could get dangerous for the US as soon as Europe forms a joint front with Russia and China. America is not invulnerable. Everything that the US has achieved in recent years - if we can talk of successes, since US policies have only caused havoc from Yugoslavia to Iraq and Libya - has been achieved with Europe's support.”

Deutschlandfunk Kultur (DE) /

EU-Iran relations could have a bright future

Even if the EU can't compensate for all the consequences US sanctions will have for European companies, it can counter them to a certain extent, Deutschlandfunk Kultur believes:

“Not all European businesses are active both in the US and the Middle East. Those that focus on Iran and carry out their transactions in euros instead of dollars may be encouraged to go on doing just that. In addition, the EU can offer Iran loans through its development bank. For that to happen, Tehran must guarantee that it will adhere to the nuclear deal. And the EU must make it clear to Iran that further agreements must follow. On restricting the Iranian missile programme and on limiting Iran's claim to power in the Middle East. Will Iran go along with that? Time will tell. In any case, it's not completely out of the question.”

Adevărul (RO) /

The hour of the ad-hoc alliances

The US is reshuffling global alliances, journalist Cristian Unteanu concludes on Adevărul's blog portal:

“By exiting the nuclear deal on the one hand the US is enabling the triad consisting of Russia, Turkey and Iran to strengthen its position as guarantor of security in the Middle East. On the other hand it is forcing the three major European powers [Berlin, Paris, London] to seek a solution to the Iranian problem together with Russia and China. An ad-hoc alliance could consist of Germany, France, the UK, and China and, with the EU's blessing, react to sanctions that affect many countries across the globe that do trade with Iran. ... The US is forcing the whole world to quickly choose which side it wants to be on.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

EU must not let itself be dictated to

European states must not let the US blackmail them into going along with new sanctions against Iran, the Irish Examiner warns:

“The suggestion that US national security adviser John Bolton has warned that European companies doing business in Iran must stop doing so within six months or face sanctions adds a sinister layer to the episode. Does America really think it can dictate the foreign policy of countries it does business with? This threat rings loudly in Ireland as we have invested considerable time and effort in trying to establish a market for Irish farm produce in Iran. Does Mr Bolton expect the EU to dance to his tune too?”

Libération (FR) /

A unique opportunity for Europe

The EU should use the US's decision to make a quantum leap, Libération urges:

“What this lightning bolt reveals is an unexpected shifting of alliances that could lead to a new geopolitical balance of power. And why not in Europe's favour? ... Donald Trump has de facto pushed the Europeans into a corner: either they cede and let their foreign and trade policy be dictated by the Americans, or they decide that it's high time to turn Europe into a political global power, not just an economic one. That's easier said than done, but now that the principal European leaders are for once on the same wavelength, and China is on their side, it would be a pity to let this opportunity slip by unused.”

Público (PT) /

That will cost a pretty penny

Público describes the additional financial burden the EU now faces:

“The Europeans must compensate for the vacuum left by the US not just diplomatically, but also financially. ... That will be expensive, however, and there's no guarantee that the EU will be able to foot the bill. First of all the price of oil, on which Europe is highly dependent, will quickly rise. Secondly the EU must take up the slack caused by the US's exiting the Iran deal, which is considerable. And thirdly the imposition of US sanctions threatens to hit European firms doing business with Iran. ... Once again Brussels is being pressured to reflect on European bloc's presence on the global stage.”