(CNSNews.com) – In walking away from the nuclear deal, the Trump administration hopes to build a broad coalition of nations that will counter not just Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions but all of its “malign activities,” including ballistic missiles and support for terrorism.
Two senior State Department officials briefing reporters on background expressed some optimism that the response from key partners will be positive.
They noted a tweet from French President Emmanuel Macron, minutes after President Trump ended his statement announcing withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), had voiced “a willingness to work on a broader deal.”
While Macron joined his German and British counterparts regretting Trump’s decision, he also tweeted, “We will work collectively on a broader framework, covering nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity, and stability in the Middle-East, notably Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.”
Those are some of the very elements listed in a White House factsheet regarding Tehran’s “destabilizing drive for regional hegemony,” including its sponsorship of Shi’a militant and terrorist groups in Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq, and its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and complicity in “Assad’s atrocities against the Syrian people.”
“We believe that by getting rid of the JCPOA, we can come up with a more comprehensive deal, a more comprehensive approach that doesn’t just focus on the nuclear file,” one of the State Department officials told reporters.
“The JCPOA tried to deal only with the nuclear file and left everything else off the table in the hopes that it would just kind of get better on its own or we wouldn’t have to worry about it as much,” the official said. “That strategy didn’t work. So what we hope to do is a much more comprehensive deal.”
In Iran’s early reaction to Trump’s announcement, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said he would explore whether the remaining JCPOA participants were able to ensure the deal’s “full benefits for Iran.”
The outcome of that diplomatic effort, Zarif said, “will determine our response.”
France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China are the five countries which joined the Obama administration in negotiating the JCPOA with Iran.
The three European partners in their joint reaction statement urged the U.S. “to avoid taking action which obstructs its full implementation by all other parties to the deal.”
However, the planned reimposition of U.S. sanctions, signaled by Trump in his announcement and spelled out in a presidential memorandum issued immediately afterwards, mean that the “full benefits for Iran” laid out in the JCPOA, as referred to by Zarif, will unquestionably be absent.
Energy-related sanctions lifted under the JCPOA – such as those dealing with oil, petroleum and petrochemicals – are to be reimposed within 180 days, and other sanctions within 90 days. Those “wind-down periods” are designed to provide time for U.S. and foreign companies to end contracts.
The U.S. Treasury Department will also be returning some 400 Iranian individuals and entities to its Office of Foreign Assets Control’s specially designated national (SDN) list, from which they were removed on JCPOA implementation day in January 2016.
Any foreign individual or entity that conducts transactions with an individual or entity on the SDN list is subject to U.S. sanctions.
The briefing State Department officials rejected the suggestion that the policy shift would have “unintended consequences,” by forcing European companies doing business in Iran to leave.
“Those are actually intended consequences,” stressed one of the officials. “We do think that, given the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’] penetration of the Iranian economy and Iran’s behavior in the region, as well as its other nefarious activities, that companies should not do business in Iran. That’s an intended consequence.”
The official said the U.S. would certainly be encouraging those companies that have entered the Iranian market to withdraw.
Asked whether the U.S. would be prepared to sanction European firms that do not leave, the officials said those discussions with the Europeans have begun and would be ongoing.
“Hopefully we will build – and this is the secretary and the president’s desire and focus, is to build this global effort to put renewed and strengthened pressure on Iran,” the official said. “And that will include trying to isolate Iran economically.”