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Breaking down Macron’s Iran talks with Trump

Trump and Macron at a news conference in the White House
Trump and Macron at a news conference in the White House

By: PMOI staff writer

 

PMOI/MEK, April 25, 2018 - French President Emmanuel Macron, in a last ditch effort to preserve the already highly controversial Iran nuclear agreement, was seen attempting to convince the defiant U.S. President Donald Trump.

There is no doubt about the existing flaws in the Iran deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Europeans seek to preserve their economic interests with Iran, while the U.S. is forecasting the long-term consequences of what Trump considers the “worst deal in history.”

Macron’s proposal was the main focus of his White House visit, attempting to preserve Trump’s somewhat loyalty to the existing accord. There is word of a “new deal” supposedly seeking to expand the initial JCPOA.

While Iran’s ballistic missile program and destructive meddling in the Middle East are proposed to be added to the JCPOA blueprint, Tehran’s drastic human rights dossier should not go neglected.

All this adds to Trump’s deep skepticism regarding the 2015 agreement, making the path forward for Macron and his European partners all the more difficult.

Staving off Trump from his May 12th deadline was Macron’s hope, yet signs indicate failure in sealing his ultimate goal. Promising future diplomacy can be considered a lost bet, as eight years under the Obama administration proved talks with the Iranian regime are futile and will only leave Middle East nations suffering.

Simply repairing flaws, as proposed by Macron, is not what Trump wants to hear and will certainly provide an opportunity for Iran to stall. Tehran needs this time window to advance its belligerence in the Middle East and ballistic missile program, knowing these are important bargaining chips in the not so distant future.

There are analysts who believe Trump may have shown partial interest in Macron’s game-plan by using the terms “solid foundations” in the face of “decayed” fundamentals in reference to the initial JCPOA.

A news conference with Trump was the scene where Macron chose to shed light on his proposed “new accord” with Iran. This new outline would combine the current JCPOA with added measures curbing Iran’s nuclear drive after 2025 when “sunset clauses” are set to expire, halting the regime’s ballistic missile program and reigning in its malign regional meddling.

American and European negotiations have been hard at work for weeks now, following lines laid out by Macron. The main challenge before their effort, however, is the fact that Trump – according to his principles – refuses to provide any guarantee of his upcoming JCPOA decision.

While leaders and diplomats across the international spectrum may emphasize on sticking to the current JCPOA framework to guarantee Iran’s presence at a future negotiating arrangement, this is a mistaken perspective. Any such insistence will be considered by Tehran as an obvious sign of weakness and an Achilles heel to exploit.

Trump understands this principle and his recent remarks at the White House, describing the JCPOA as “terrible,” “insane” and “ridiculous.” Trump’s strong assertions continued, saying Tehran will pay “a price like few countries have ever paid,” responding to Iran’s threats of relaunching their nuclear program in the case the U.S. decides to walk away from the accord.

Trump’s reaction played as a wakeup call for Macron and all others who had high expectations from this visit. Trump has shown a tendency to remain loyal to his campaign promises. Tearing up the JCPOA may be yet another such issue. Unless he sees a firm and final agreement from the European Troika, it is quite obvious Trump will not budge, let alone voice any commitment.

All this comes prior to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s scheduled Friday meeting with Trump. Considering the fact that Macron most likely coordinated his proposal for Trump with his European counterparts, any expectation of a game-changing proposal from Merkel is quite farfetched.

At the end of the day, these developments come at a time when Trump’s national security team is completing following the Senate confirmation of Mike Pompeo as the country’s new top diplomat. Needless to say that Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton are both major critics of Iran’s wide range of bellicosity.

As the debate will continue, some may argue a U.S. withdrawal could undermine American credibility at the negotiating table as it seeks denuclearization in North Korea. Although one can also counterargue Trump giving into a feeble European proposal can send a message of weakness to Pyongyang.

As we reach the May 12th deadline, rest assured only a firm line of persistence to take serious measures against Iran’s malign regime will be of lasting benefit for the international community.

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