European officials say they have made substantial progress in internal talks on the Iran nuclear deal. Planned revisions, likely through a secondary agreement among the EU participants and the US, are being worked on ahead of Trump’s May 12 ultimatum.
The potential stumbling block, as always in the P5+1 deal, is President Trump. Trump has made broad demands for wholesale changes to the already signed agreement, and while the European nations can give him some lip-service on those issues, some changes simply are impossible to impose at this point. That means a risk that no matter what they do, President Trump may try to collapse the deal outright.
Secretary of State-nominee Mike Pompeo said as much to Congress today, In the course of promising “tough action” against Iran, Pompeo suggested the US might have to just destroy the old deal, and then negotiate a whole other, tougher agreement.
That’s probably not possible. The P5+1 deal was reached only with protracted negotiation, and the US never really honored the terms of it. It is unthinkable that, if Trump blows up the deal, anyone else would try to negotiate a new deal with him.
Pompeo ultimately undermined the whole argument for forcing new terms on the deal in the first place, telling the Senate that even if Trump ripped up the deal, there was “no indication” Iran would try for a nuclear weapon in the absence of the deal.
Instead, Pompeo insisted that the nuclear deal was interfering with other general anti-Iran measures the administration wants to take. He declared Iran to be a threat to Israel and to “the homeland,” though did not elaborate as to how.