Donald Trump has turned back the clock. On July 14, 2015, the five permanent members of the United Nations’ Security Council (U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France), Germany, and Iran signed the Iran nuclear deal. Iran committed to major reductions in its nuclear program, and in return, the sanctions that had been imposed on the Iranian nuclear program were relaxed.
But on May 8, 2018, President Trump declared that the U.S. was pulling out of the deal, which he had strongly criticized during his election campaign. Exactly 90 days after the announcement, the first wave of sanctions has now taken effect again, mainly affecting the supply of U.S. dollars to the financial sector, gold purchases, aluminum, steel and software. The second, much more extensive wave of sanctions will follow after 180 days. This is especially significant for European companies, as they have U.S. sanctions to fear if they do business with Iran.
This is unacceptable. The European Union cannot accept the administration in Washington deciding which countries businesses in the EU countries can and cannot do business with. Everyone involved is aware that the regime in Tehran is anything but a good partner for Europe. The mullahs want to eradicate Israel, promote terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and are involved in proxy wars from Yemen to Syria. Opponents of the regime, critical intellectuals, journalists and artists, as well as women's rights and human rights activists, risk their freedom, their health and even their lives.
Nevertheless, Iran has so far adhered to all of the points of the agreement, and has not provided a reason for reapplying the sanctions. Trump has reimplemented the sanctions without consulting the other deal negotiators, and demanded that China, Russia, India, Turkey and the EU dance to Washington's tune. And as a result, Europeans now find themselves in the same boat as Moscow and Beijing, which also firmly condemn Trump's actions.
A second worry for Europeans is U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two hawks in Trump's cabinet seeking regime change in Iran, who would doubtlessly accept a war without batting an eye. A war between the U.S. and Iran would plunge the region – which is already in flames – into further chaos.