President Donald Trump on Tuesday pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — a multilateral deal signed with the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany, all of whom wish to stay in the JCPOA.
As he gave his personal reasons for leaving the deal (Trump referred to himself 19 times in the announcement), the president offered virtually nothing in the way of an alternative to the deal, which saw Iran limiting its enrichment activity in exchange for sanctions relief. When asked, he also could not say why or how pulling out of the deal will make America safer.
His decision has triggered a large wave of dismay and disagreement from U.S. allies and trading partners around the world.
As Iran and the other partners in the JCPOA scramble to see if the deal is salvageable — Iran has sent mixed signals on whether it is willing to remain in the deal if the banking sanctions are re-imposed and it’s unclear if Trump will sanction U.S. trading partners for doing business in Iran — the partners in the deal registered their concerns:
European Union: Top European diplomat Federica Mogherini said that she is especially worried about Trump’s mention of new sanctions and hopes the U.S. will reconsider its position on the JCPOA. She also pointed out that the deal is not Trump’s alone to blow up:
“As we have always said, the nuclear deal is not a bilateral agreement and it is not in the hands of any single country to terminate it unilaterally. It has been unanimously endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231….The nuclear deal with Iran is crucial for the security of the region, of Europe and of the entire world.”
France: President Emmanuel Macron, who was in Washington in late April hoping to convince Trump to stay in the deal, tweeted:
France, Germany, and the UK regret the U.S. decision to leave the JCPOA. The nuclear non-proliferation regime is at stake.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 8, 2018
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian slammed Trump’s decision as “isolationist, protectionist and unilateral logic,” and said that France would try to keep the deal alive.
“We will bring businesses together in the coming days to try and preserve them as much as possible from the US measures.”
Germany: Calling the JCPOA “an important pillar we don’t want to do without,” Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed Germany’s commitment to stay in the deal.
“I think yesterday showed us that we in Europe will have to take more responsibility,” she said, adding, “Germany, France and the UK have decided that we will abide by the agreement, and we will do everything we can to see that Iran also abides by its responsibilities in the future.”
The United Kingdom: Noting that the JCPOA eliminated 95 percent of Iran’s uranium stockpile, Middle East Minister Alistair Burt said the U.K. was “disappointed” in Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal. He also said he does not believe “the deal is dead in the water.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted:
Deeply regret US decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. UK remains strongly committed to the JCPoA, and will work with E3 partners and the other parties to the deal to maintain it. Await more detail on US plan.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) May 8, 2018
China: Despite being the party to the JCPOA that might stand to gain the most, economically, from the deal’s destruction (by virtue of having Iran rely on it more than the United State’s European partners for trade and investment), China has spoken up for the preservation of the deal.
Emphasizing the importance of the deal, China’s special envoy to the Middle East Gong Xiaosheng said, “Having a deal is better than no deal. Dialogue is better than confrontation.”
The country’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang expressed “regret” over Trump’s decision and affirmed China’s commitment to “carry on the normal and transparent pragmatic cooperation with Iran on the basis of not violating [the] international obligation.”
Russia: The country’s foreign ministry added its voice to those expressing deep disappointment in Trump’s unilateral decision to pull out of the JCPOA, accusing him of “trampling on the norms of international law.”
Iran: The response to Trump’s announcement on Tuesday has been loud and fierce in Iran, which does not have a nuclear weapons program and under the deal has submitted to the most rigorous inspections ever carried out by the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Trump of uttering 10 lies in his announcement (he did not provide any details, but the Washington Post gave it a shot), while lawmakers burned paper American flags on the parliament’s floor and stated that they were not in favor of renegotiating the deal.
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, meanwhile, tweeted his marching orders from President Hassan Rouhani, who called the decision “psychological warfare”:
In response to US persistent violations & unlawful withdrawal from the nuclear deal, as instructed by President Rouhani, I'll spearhead a diplomatic effort to examine whether remaining JCPOA participants can ensure its full benefits for Iran. Outcome will determine our response.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 8, 2018
Countries all around the world issued statement on President Trump’s decision. Below are some of the notable ones:
Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to enthusiastically support Trump on his decision, which is no surprise, given that he also congratulated him on decertifying the deal (the president is required to certify the deal every three months under U.S. law) in October.
Israel fully supports @realDonaldTrump’s bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran. The deal didn’t push war further away; it actually brought it closer. The deal didn’t reduce Iran’s aggression; it dramatically increased it. pic.twitter.com/sxJHocLqu7
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) May 8, 2018
But according to Bloomberg, the security community in Israel is split on the whether the decision actually makes Israel any safer, saying that the deal, even if flawed, was “working.” They also directly contradict Netanyahu’s claims that Iran has violated the deal.
Turkey: Calling the decision an “unfortunate step,” Turkey’s foreign ministry issued a statement urging all parties to resolve issues through diplomatic means:
“Turkey has always defended the stance that issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program should be resolved through diplomacy and negotiations and has made intensive efforts in this direction. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) accepted in 2015 was an important step taken to prevent proliferation. The plan in question has shown that even the most difficult of subjects could be resolved through negotiations.”
Australia: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urged all parties to “show restraint” in how they proceed and to work to stick with the deal.
“We do regret the US pulling out of the Iran deal, we believe it was the best option to maintain the ability to verify Iran’s compliance with its commitments on nuclear development,” said Turnbull.
Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies: Iran’s chief rival in the region, Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry released a statement saying, “The kingdom supports and welcomes the steps announced by the US president towards withdrawing from the nuclear deal… and reinstating economic sanctions against Iran.”
Bahrain (which like some of the other Sunni-ruled countries in the region has accused Iran of instigating a Shia insurgency) also issued a statement of support, thanking Trump for helping challenge Iran’s “continuous attempts to spread terrorism in the region.”