US Threatened Auto Tariffs on Europe Over Iran Nuclear Deal

Nations triggered 'dispute mechanism' over US demand

The decision by three EU nations to trigger the P5+1 nuclear deal’s dispute mechanism was a dangerous one. It threatens to break the deal they’ve sought to save, was opposed by Russia, and was also criticized as a mistake by Iran.

Negotiations were the obvious way forward, and the dispute mechanism risks everything. It turns out, the EU nations didn’t have a real choice on the matter, and did so in response to US threats.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that President Trump had threatened to slap a 25 percent tariff on all European auto imports if Britain, France, and Germany did not immediately trigger the mechanism and declare Iran to be in violation of the nuclear deal.

Yet this effort ignores key facts, particularly that Iran was deliberately violating the deal in minor, easily reversible ways to try to get negotiations going, because the EU nations were already in violation, failing to deliver promised sanctions relief.

The EU violations are the result of President Trump withdrawing from the nuclear deal, and threatening Europe enough that those nations did not do business with Iran as they’d pledged to. This was a long-recognized problem, and while the EU initially promised a clearing house to circumvent the US, they failed to deliver on it.

Ultimately all of the violations of the nuclear deal are by the design of the Trump Administration, which has wanted to kill it from day one. They are continuing to drive EU policy on Iran away from compliance and toward increasingly dangerous steps, believing they can ultimately kill the deal despite no longer being a party to it.

Vague banking sanctions were all it took to keep the EU from trading with Iran, and now an auto tariff, which Trump has threatened before and is liable to impose on some other pretext at any rate, was enough to drive their policy on the nuclear deal itself.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of