Europe Reacts to Pompeo Demands

May 21, 2018

European leaders questioned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's reasoning for the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and his call for a new, all-encompassing Iran deal. "Secretary Pompeo’s speech has not demonstrated how walking away from the JCPOA has made or will make the region safer from the threat of nuclear proliferation or how it puts us in a better position to influence Iran’s conduct in areas outside the scope of JCPOA," said E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. "There is no alternative to the JCPOA." 

Earlier in the day, Pompeo announced a new framework for dealing with Iran following the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord. He warned that the United States will apply military and economic pressure to Iran, including the “strongest sanctions in history,” unless Tehran changes its nuclear program and foreign policy. Pompeo outlined 12 demands that he said should be included in a new deal that would address Iran’s nuclear program, as well as its ballistic missile program, support for extremist groups, and threats against its neighbors and U.S. allies. The following are reactions from European leaders. 


EU High Representative and Vice President Federica Mogherini

We have listened attentively to today's speech by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, addressed not only to the audiences in Iran, but also to all those in support of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The Iran Nuclear Deal and continuing support for it are major achievements of international diplomacy, ensuring that Iran’s nuclear capacities remain exclusively for peaceful purposes.

The IAEA has confirmed already 10 times that Iran implemented and continues to implement all its nuclear related commitments, and has inter alia stated that it was granted all the access requests needed to fulfil its mandate.

The JCPOA is the result of more than a decade of complex and delicate negotiations, based on dual track approach and therefore the best possible outcome, striking the right balance.

The European Union is and will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the JCPOA as long as Iran abides by all its nuclear-related commitments, as it is doing so far. 

This deal belongs to the international community, having been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. The international community expects all sides to keep the commitments they made more than two years ago.

The normalisation of trade and economic relations with Iran constitutes an essential part of the agreement, which should be upheld by the international community.

The JCPOA was never designed to address all issues in the relationship with Iran. Concerns regarding Iran's regional role, terrorism and non-respect for human rights are regularly raised by the EU with Tehran and indeed the EU has in place sanctions seeking to pressure Iran to change its behaviour.

Secretary Pompeo’s speech has not demonstrated how walking away from the JCPOA has made or will make the region safer from the threat of nuclear proliferation or how it puts us in a better position to influence Iran’s conduct in areas outside the scope of JCPOA. There is no alternative to the JCPOA.

May 21, 2018, in a statement 


British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson 

"The prospect of a new jumbo Iran treaty is going to be very, very difficult. I think if you try now to fold all those issues – the ballistic missiles, Iran’s misbehaviour, Iran’s disruptive activity in the region and the nuclear question - if you try to fold all those in to a giant negotiation, a new jumbo Iran negotiation, a new treaty - that’s what seems to be envisaged - I don’t see that being very easy to achieve, in anything like a reasonable timetable."

"The advantage of the JCPOA was that it had a very clear objective. It protected the world from an Iranian nuclear bomb, and in return it gave the Iranians some recognisable economic benefits. That was at the core of it. The Americans have walked away from that."

"We’ll certainly be discussing it with friends and colleagues today, how to take it forward."

May 21, 2018, to reporters in Buenos Aires, according to The Guardian


French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian 

"We disagree with the method because this collection of sanctions which will be set up against Iran will not enable dialogue and, on the contrary, it will reinforce the conservatives and weaken President Rouhani. This posture risks endangering the region more." 

May 23, 2018, to France Inter radio, according to Reuters 

"We are in a situation of major instability ... All the ocnidtions are met for conflagration." 

"These sanctions are not acceptable. We can't allow them to become legitimate." 

May 23, 2018, to France Inter radio, according to Xinhua Net

"We consider that all the anti-Iranian sanctions will not contribute a dialogue. Vice versa, it will contribute to strengthening of the positions of conservators in Iran, it will weaken [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani, who wanted to be engaged in a dialogue… Finally, this [US] position could result in additional risks in the region." 

"We, the Europeans, are completely against these measures; these are the measures we call extraterritorial … We are not just protesting. Firstly, we demanded that those enterprises, which have been investing in Iran since the Vienna agreement, could continue their investment legally. Furthermore, we decided to implement a mechanism which will allow us to ensure that the European enterprises deal with Iran via financial mechanisms that allows immunizing investment without being dependent on US dollar or on sanctions adopted by the US." 

May 23, 2018, to France Inter radio, according to Sputnik News


German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas

"We are still a long way from a compromise. We take two completely different paths." 

May 23, 2018, to reporters after a meeting with Secretary of State Pompeo, according to RadioFreeEurope RadioLiberty

"Europe is very, very united in its position on the nuclear accord with Iran, and that will not change." 

May 23, 2018, to reporters in Washington following a discussion with National Security Adviser John Bolton, according to Reuters 

"We don't want any proliferaiton of nuclear weapons in our extended neighborhood." 

May 22, 2018, while meeting with U.S. lawmakers, according to Deutsche Welle

"We in Germany, but also in Europe, are determined to do everything necessary to preserve the deal, and to keep Iran in it." 

May 22, 2018, after a meeting with U.S. lawmakers, according to RadioFreeEurope RadioLiberty