French President Emmanuel Macron has a tough mandate in his visit with President Donald Trump on Monday: He aims to talk Trump into sticking with the Iran nuclear deal and into reversing plans to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on European trade partners.
Macron’s visit will include a state dinner — the first one hosted by President Trump since he took office in January 2017.
But hanging in the balance is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — a deal signed by Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany that saw Iran scaling back its enrichment program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Trump has repeatedly called the JCPOA the “worst deal ever” and has called for pulling out or renegotiating the deal throughout the campaign and presidency.
Iranian officials, meanwhile, have been meeting with European counterparts to make clear that Iran will not stay in the deal should the United States pull out. And there is every indication that Trump will do just that.
In an attempt to appease Trump, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom tried and failed to pass new sanctions in the European Union, and Iran has grown increasingly agitated with the threat of brutal banking sanctions being snapped back, threatening its fragile economic recovery.
In the lead up to his visit, Macron on Sunday said there is no “Plan B” if the JCPOA is torn up, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif agreed with him, tweeting that the JCPOA is an “all or nothing” agreement.
President Macron is correct in saying there's no "Plan B" on JCPOA. It's either all or nothing. European leaders should encourage President Trump not just to stay in the nuclear deal, but more importantly to begin implementing his part of the bargain in good faith.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 23, 2018
In a Sunday interview with CBS’s Face the Nation, Zarif said that by pulling out of the deal, President Trump would isolate the United States, proving it to be an unreliable partner and setting a “bad precedent.” Zarif added that the United States was not the only party in the JCPOA with options:
“No, we have put a number of options for ourselves and those options are ready, including options that would involve resuming at a much greater speed our nuclear activities. And those are all envisioned within the deal. And those options are ready to be implemented and we would make the necessary decision when we see fit.”
Macron might also discuss easing trade sanctions against Russia, and the Associated Press reported on Monday that he is likely to push for extending exemptions on steel and aluminum tariffs to European trade partners.
E.U. exemptions from the 25 percent and 10 percent tariffs imposed on steel and aluminum imports respectively expire on May 1, with the European Union threatening to apply $3.4 billion in tariffs on American products, such as bourbon and denim, if it doesn’t get the exemptions.