US envoy tries to shatter Iran unity
Britain should ditch the European Union over Iranian sanctions and back Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the nuclear deal, according to the US ambassador to the UK in another breach of diplomatic practice.
Iran agreed in 2015 to limit uranium enrichment in return for the lifting of international sanctions, but Trump broke the deal in May.
Last week Trump tweeted that the sanctions would be “the most biting . . . ever imposed … anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States”.
In response, the EU, UK, France and Germany restated their support for former president Barack Obama’s deal, calling it “crucial for the security of Europe, the region, and the entire world”.
The US “ambassador”, Woody Johnson, wrote in the UK’s Sunday Telegraph: “America is turning up the pressure and we want the UK by our side. We are asking global Britain to use its considerable diplomatic power and influence and join us.”
Johnson threatened that there would be trade consequences for Britain, which he described as the closest US ally unless it abandoned Brussels and told UK employers to stop trading with Iran or face “serious consequences”.
The UK is looking for non-European trading partners as it contemplates a deeply insecure future outside the EU amid the ongoing Brexit crisis.
Johnson argued Trump was “determined to make sure they are fully enforced. … The president has been explicit: any businesses that put their commercial interests in Iran ahead of the global goodwill risk serious consequences for their trade with the US.”
A UK Foreign Office source said: “We remain committed to the nuclear deal. But we have had discussions with Washington about how we can work together in other ways to curb activity by Iran in the Middle East which concern us.”
Asked if UK firms could expect London to stand its ground on Iran, minister Alistair Burt told reporters last week: “They can expect us to do that, yes. Sometimes you need to take a stand against friends.”
The US sanctions last week prohibit any transactions with Iran involving dollars, gold and other precious metals, aluminium, steel, commercial passenger aircraft, shipping and Iran’s ports. More extensive bans on oil and gas are expected in November.
Trump has called Obama’s nuclear deal a “horrible, one-sided” agreement.
Johnson wrote: “Only by presenting a united front can we exert the maximum possible pressure on the Iranian regime and get them to finally change course and put an end to their malign and reckless activities both at home and abroad.”
The so-called diplomat argued that Iran had used profits made under the 2015 deal to boost military spending and proxy forces in West Asia, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, militants in Yemen and launching cyber attacks against western countries.
The US blames Iran for the Saudi-led chaos in Yemen. Picture credit: Wikimedia