European leaders have vowed they won’t be dictated to by Donald Trump as they scrambled to save the Iran nuclear deal thrown into doubt by the US President.
The French and German governments stressed the need for political independence from the White House as they took steps to safeguard the agreement which lifted economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits on the country’s nuclear programme.
“There is a realization among all European states what we cannot keep going in the direction we are headed today whereby we submit to American decisions,” said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said of EU-US relations: “We are prepared to talk… but also to fight for our positions where necessary.”
Their comments came as it was announced UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will take part in emergency talks with his Iranian counterpart in Brussels next week.
The meeting, which will also be attended by the German and French foreign ministers, has been convened by EU high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini.
Mogherini launched a thinly veiled verbal assault on the US President as she set out her determination to save the Iran nuclear deal during an address in Florence today.
With the world in a “state of chaos”, she said the EU needs to control tensions by preserving the Iran deal.
“I know this is not the mood of our times,” she added.
“It seems that today screaming and shouting, insulting and bullying, systematically destroying and dismantling everything that is already in place is the mood of our times.
“I have the impression that this impulse to destroy is not leading us anywhere good.”
Trump described the deal as “horrible” and “one-sided” as he announced US withdrawal on Tuesday, which could lead to penalties for European businesses that have begun trading with Iran since it was signed in 2013.
French exports to Iran doubled last year to €1.5 billion, while German exports rose by €400 million last year to €3 billion.
Defending the deal today at the European University Institute’s state of the union conference, Mogherini said it had opened up trade while providing security in the region.
Asked whether it would be saved, Mogherini replied: “Yes.
“I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s going to be very difficult and it’s going to be very different from the past but our determination is to keep this agreement in place.”
She said she had been encouraged by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s commitment to abide by the deal if the other signatories did so.
Along with the UK, France, Germany and the EU, China and Russia are the party to the deal.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin about how to preserve the agreement today.
She too had stern words for Trump today. Merkel said it was important to maintain a “strong transatlantic partnership” but added: “If everybody does what they like, then this is bad news for the world.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will fly to Moscow for talks with the Russian government on Monday, before going to Tuesday’s meeting in Brussels.