By Hossein Yari

Merkel's ineffectual visit to the U.S.

April 30, 2018

TEHRAN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to the United States to speak with US President Donald Trump about different issues. Although some Western news sources mentioned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as the main goal of Merkel's visit to the US, but it seems there were other objectives and topics that had to be discussed before the JCPOA!

 
Although the two leaders stressed the US and Germany’s close ties, they couldn't mask their deep differences.
It shouldn't be forgotten that following the imposition of tariffs on Europe's steel and aluminum by Trump, tensions raised between Berlin and Washington over the past months. Besides, The US president has repeatedly stressed his criticism of NATO members that do not spend the 2% of GDP on defense. In an article which was published before Merkel's visit to the United States by Reuters we read that probably Merkel and Trump are going to focus on a variety of issues, including economic ones. Prior to the visit, German officials said that there will be negotiations about imposing tariffs on Europe's exported steel and aluminum, which will be in effect from May1th….
Reuters hadn't referred to the JCPOA in this article. The fact is that Emanuel Macron's failure to persuade US President Donald Trump to remain as part of the nuclear deal has led to the disappointment of Germany's Chancellor to continue negotiations on this subject. This, of course, doesn't mean that the leaders of the two countries didn't talk about the JCPOA at all. Merkel's remarks at the end of the meeting showed that the Chancellor of Germany, like Macron, wasn't able to come to an agreement with Trump on the JCPOA.


Merkel knows well that presence of people like John Bolton at the White House have greatly reduced the likelihood that the United States would remain in the JCPOA. After meeting with Trump, Macron mentioned that the president of the United States would probably walk out of the nuclear deal with Iran. The French president also noted that he was unable to persuade Trump to stay committed to the nuclear accord. Even beyond, Trump has claimed that he has changed Macron's mind on the nuclear deal with Iran.
The fact is that since last summer and under the pressure of the United States, France and Britain, German authorities have agreed to negotiate on "changing the JCPOA". Germany, as well as France and Britain, will now have a major responsibility for the withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear deal. If the strategy of "restraining the US" was well conducted by the European troika, today the US president did not explicitly raise the issue of withdrawal from the nuclear deal. However, from the beginning, there was little hope that the Chancellor of Germany could do something in preventing the United States to walk out of the JCPOA, since it was only a 1 day visit, and besides, only a short time remains to Trump's deadline of May 12th.
Another point to be taken into consideration here is that Merkel's main goal of negotiating with Trump was to reach a perfect agreement with the White House over recent economic disputes. It is high time, and there is much at stake for Europe. On May 1, the US might apply punitive tariffs against the European Union.  Though Trump has already delayed these tariffs on European goods, some US sources have stated that the US President's final decision will remain unchanged. Accordingly, Merkel told the reports: “The president will decide – that’s very clear. We had an exchange of views on the current state of affairs and the negotiations. The decision lies with the president.”
Trump said: “We need a reciprocal relationship, which we don’t have. We’re working on it and we want to make it more fair and the chancellor wants to make it more fair.”

It seems that Merkel's main attempts in her visit to the US was basically about the recent military and economic disputes with the White House, and the JCPOA was not a top priority from the beginning.
  As noted above, after Macron's failure, Merkel did not have an incentive to continue the talks with Trump on the JCPOA. Even if the United States and Europe are considering the issue of a complementary agreement besides the JCPOA, this will not be considered legal by Iran, Russia or China.

Thus we should not forget that the European troika, namely the three countries of France, Britain and Germany, are to blame for creating the current situation. And although the role of France and Britain is more highlighted than Germany in this equation, Berlin must accept its share too.
 Eventually, it seems that if there is a formal announcement of US withdrawal from the JCPOA, there will be negotiations among the three European countries on how to keep things going. But it they should keep in mind that the response of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the US action will be tough. Obviously, if Washington announces its withdrawal from the nuclear deal, there is no reason for the Islamic Republic of Iran to remain as part of this agreement. And this is what many officials of our country have stressed on in their words.

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