State Department official Brian Hook told reporters today that, despite “constructive” talks with European nations on the Iran agreement, the US is scrambling to make “contingency plans” in case the talks fail, and the nuclear deal gets blown up by President Trump.
There’s every reason to think such preparation is necessary. President Trump set an ultimatum for Europe to agree to vast changes to the P5+1 nuclear deal, or he would withdraw the US. European officials are trying to placate the US, but also recognize that Russia, China, and most importantly Iran aren’t going along with the idea.
Even if the EU nations do come through with some of the big changes Trump wants, there is every reason to believe he might withdraw from the deal anyhow. He’s long made clear his opposition to the deal, and his demands seemed designed to fail.
The demanded “fixes” included making limits on Iran’s civilian program permanent, tying Europe’s sanctions relief to America’s own perspective of the deal, compelling Iran to offer additional access above and beyond what UN inspectors even want, and treating Iran’s conventional missile systems as part of their “nuclear” program for the purposes of sanctions.
None of these were very realistic, and that’s likely the point. President Trump campaigned in 2016 on killing the Iran deal, and has only extended it so far very begrudgingly. May 12 is seen as the end, because no matter how much the EU and everyone else gives, they can’t possibly offer everything, and that means it won’t be enough.