A while back, the US president said his country would no longer act as the world’s policeman. However, it seems this will be a habit the long-authoritarian Washington finds hard to kick. Certainly in terms of the long-arm jurisdiction it likes to apply on the assumption that by drawing up a domestic law it can dictate to everyone, everywhere, what they can and cannot do.
While the United States can introduce domestic legislation to prevent its own companies from doing business with anyone it dislikes, it has no legal grounds for applying that legislation to non-US entities.
If, based on their relations, the US’ allies opt to voluntarily coordinate and side with the US on a certain matter, that is their decision, right or wrong. But no country is under any obligation to observe sanctions unilaterally imposed by the US. So while Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was in blatant disregard of its own international obligations, its latest attempt to deter the European Union from engaging with Teheran is an outrageous transgression.
The White House has warned the EU to not proceed with an alternative payment arrangement mechanism with Iran, saying it would deem it to be in breach of the US sanctions against Teheran.
All the other signatories to the Iran nuclear deal share the belief it is as good as it can be. Which is why, even with Washington gone, they have demonstrated their unanimous commitment to its continued implementation.
Inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency have found no violation of the deal on Teheran’s part. In other words, the deal has held on both sides. But although the deal has proved effective, the current administration has not only withdrawn the US from the deal, it continues to pursue a maximum pressure campaign against Iran for reasons originating from previous mistakes and misjudgments by Washington.
Instead of imposing unilateral punishing sanctions, Washington should be thankful that the deal has held. After all, it has put in nothing but has still reaped the rewards of peace. But then maybe, that is not what it wants. After all, as well as stopping Iran building a nuclear bomb, the deal also prevented the possibility of a war with Iran. Destroying the deal would restore that potentiality.
Washington’s current approach to Teheran is a dangerous round of gambling that risks not only ruining what the international community has achieved on the nuclear issue, but also further destabilizing the Middle East.
Decision-makers in Washington should know the nuclear deal is only a nuclear deal. Attaching too much to it will simply not work, and punishing the EU for doing the right thing will only end up hurting the US itself in the long run.