While most of the lead-up to the NATO summit this week in Brussels has centered around President Trump pushing military spending, and potentially being less hostile toward Russia than the other nations prefer, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Brussels with a mission focused heavily on Iran.
The US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year. No other NATO nations followed suit, but the US has been making the rounds, pressuring nations worldwide to follow the new US sanctions.
Pompeo will be having sideline meetings with leaders of the various NATO nations during the summit, trying to sell them on the need to “pressure Iran.” This is going to be a very tough sell, especially for the European NATO members.
Britain, France, and Germany are all parties to the P5+1 nuclear deal, and the European Union has made resolutions calling on the entire union to support the deal, and resist US sanctions. Pompeo has a tall order to try to change their minds.
This is especially true because the US never really had much justification for withdrawing from the nuclear deal in the first place, beyond President Trump personally having problems with it. Pompeo’s primary ammunition in the talks will be assurances that other nations, mostly Saudi Arabia, will replace Iran’s oil exports on the market.
There are reasons to doubt the Saudis’ ability, or even inclination, to do this, and for the European nations, it’s likely very much beside the point in the argument for sanctions. If the argument is for unity on the Iran issue, those nations may point out they’ve already reached a consensus weeks ago, and it was on preserving the deal, with or without the US.