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Cooperation on regional and global issues

58 - Relations with the US on Iran and weapons proliferation

Grade: A
Unity 5/5
Resources 5/5
Strategy 5/5
Impact 3/5
Total 18/20
Scorecard 2015: A- (17/20)
Scorecard 2014: A (18/20)
Scorecard 2013: A- (17/20)
Scorecard 2012: A- (16/20)
Scorecard 2010/11: A (18/20)

The negotiation of the nuclear deal was a success, but divergence between the US and the EUis expected on implementation

Talks led by the E3+3 group (the US, France, the UK, China, Russia, and Germany) came to a resolution with a landmark deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) –on the Iranian nuclear programme. This brings transatlantic efforts to reach a negotiated settlement with Iran to a successful conclusion.

The transatlantic alliance was the foundation for the diplomatic strategy. The EU and the US imposed tough sanctions beyond those mandated by the UN Security Council, and remained aligned throughout the negotiations despite attempts by Tehran to drive a wedge between them.

However, transatlantic unity is unlikely to be maintained, at least not to the same degree, in the implementation phase. The deal is unpopular in the US, and there are concerns in Europe that Congress could introduce sanctions against Iran over human rights abuses and regional aggression, which could have an impact on Europe.

All major Republican presidential candidates have promised to repudiate the deal if elected, leading to fears in Europe that a re-introduction of sanctions on Iran could have effects on European trade and investment. However, in private circles, senior Republican foreign policy experts acknowledge that the structure of the deal is such that they would need to abide by it. Unilateral rejection would give Iran an excuse to breach the terms and would likely destroy the international consensus necessary tore-impose sanctions.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton endorsed the deal, but called it imperfect and promised to be tough on implementation and to seek to contain Iran’s regional ambitions. This points to a significant difference in how the EU and the US perceive relations with Iran going forward. The US leadership has stressed the importance of the deal for containing Iran’s nuclear potential, whereas European leadership has cast the deal as opening a “new chapter”in relations with Iran based on cooperation. The EU and member states have had more political space to reach out to Iran due to severe domestic constraints on Tehran and Washington.