Emmanuel Macron

Macron talks sense over Iran nuclear deal

It is to be hoped the chemistry between the French president and his US counterpart Donald Trump helps forge understanding and brings stability to the region

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 5:12am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 5:12am

France’s Emmanuel Macron spoke for America’s friends and adversaries alike with a thinly veiled attack on President Donald Trump’s “America first” isolationism and nationalism during a speech to the US Congress, calling them a threat to world prosperity.

Having pulled the United States out of the Paris global climate accord and ignited threats of a world trade war, Trump has now united China, Europe and Russia in concern over his threat to abandon the Iran nuclear disarmament deal. 

Macron charms Congress with speech challenging Trump’s agenda

For the sake of regional stability and big power relations, and the credibility of US commitment to international agreements, it is to be hoped Macron succeeded in his attempt to persuade Trump that while the Iran deal may be flawed, it is better than nothing and is worth saving with further negotiations.

The deal was struck three years ago between Iran and six world powers – the US, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain. It lifted crippling economic sanctions against Iran in return for limitations to the country’s controversial nuclear energy programme, which it was feared would be used to create a nuclear weapon. 

Trump describes it as “the worst deal ever” and claims Iran has broken it. Unless he signs up to renewal of the sanctions waiver on May 12, the knock-on effects are not limited to Iran’s threat to resume its nuclear programme and to even more turmoil in the region.

Failure to stick to commitments on Iran would give North Korea’s Kim Jong-un an excuse not to trust Trump’s word at a planned summit on nuclear disarmament in the near future. 

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The visit to Washington by Macron, and another to follow by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, bring Europe’s big guns to bear on an effort to persuade Trump there may be a way forward that does not wreck the nuclear deal.

Indeed, both leaders share concern about Iran’s missile activity and interventions in regional conflict. 

Macron proposed an agreement to curb such activities that would run alongside the nuclear deal. It is to be hoped the personal chemistry between Macron and Trump helps forge understanding. Collapse of the nuclear deal would be a setback to hopes for stability of a region in which the major powers have big stakes.