With the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union freshly behind him, the British prime minister has an unusual opportunity to continue his differentiation from standard EU politics. One move he might consider would put him in Donald Trump’s good graces. Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear accord, which he called a “horrible, one-sided deal,” but he never killed it outright. Instead, the U.S. president deferred to British, French, and German wishes that the U.S. not invoke the nuclear deal’s “snapback” clause, which would have permanently buried it. After leaving the EU, Johnson is more eager than ever to secure a favorable trade deal with Washington. Triggering the nuclear agreement’s “snapback” clause may be the perfect way to put Trump in a good mood for negotiations.
Iran has deliberately violated the nuclear deal as a means to protest Trump’s ever-harsher sanctions, but the effect has been to antagonize the European parties to the deal, or “E3.” On Jan. 14, the E3 announced they were invoking the accord’s dispute resolution process. This is a major departure for the Europeans, who have been extraordinarily protective of the agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Still, if the E3 act in concert, they could drag out the dispute resolution process indefinitely. However if Johnson refuses, the deal could be dead in as little as 30 days. In the months ahead, the JCPOA may be on borrowed time.
Despite long supporting the JCPOA, Johnson recently told BBC News, “If we’re going to get rid of it, let’s replace it and let’s replace it with the Trump deal.” Mr. Trump took immediate notice of Johnson’s comment, tweeting, “I agree!”
Andrea Stricker is a research fellow at FDD focusing on nonproliferation, Iran, North Korea, and other security topics. She has written in-depth studies of strategic commodity trafficking and proliferation financing. Follow her on Twitter @StrickerNonpro