Next week President Trump is expected to decertify Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, leaving it to Congress to decide what to do about the nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. Congress would then have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose nuclear sanctions on Tehran—a move that could mean an end to the multilateral agreement.
The European Union, France, Germany, the U.K., China, and Russia are also party to the deal with Iran, which was signed in July 2015. The EU countries, especially, have furiously lobbied the Trump administration and Congress to preserve the deal. David O’Sullivan, the EU’s ambassador to Washington, and his French, German, and U.K. counterparts, met this week with congressional lawmakers to explain why Europe believes the deal is working. In their view, it is preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
To understand why Europe, which works closely with the U.S. on a host of foreign-policy challenges around the world, is working so hard to preserve the JCPOA, I spoke to O’Sullivan, who has been ambassador to Washington since 2014. He told me Europe has conveyed its concerns to the Trump administration. He addressed criticism of the deal—that it doesn’t deal with Iran’s problematic regional activities, and that it allows Iran to restart its nuclear program in a number of years—and said he isn’t convinced the deal is dead. O’Sullivan also noted that how “America proceeds on this issue would have implications for the credibility of U.S. behavior in other situations such as, for example, the North Korea situation.”