US Arrogance on Iran: Trump's "Coalition of the Unwilling and Openly Coerced"

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Vice President Mike Pence demanded the EU quit the Iran accord. EU leaders politely told Pence to go to hell.

Last week Pence demanded Europe Must Withdraw from Iran Nuclear Deal.

I seldom cheer anything the EU does or says but their response to Pence was on the mark. His Calls to Pressure Iran Fall on Deaf Ears in Europe.

World leaders gathered at the annual Munich Security Conference on Friday to debate a range of issues from the Middle East, to trade, Europe’s future and cyberwarfare. Speaking at the conference on Saturday, Mr. Pence, who is on a diplomatic trip to Europe, said the European Union should follow the U.S. in leaving the Iran nuclear deal.

Echoing comments he made earlier this week at a Polish-U.S. conference in Warsaw, Mr. Pence said “the time has come for our European partners to stop undermining U.S. sanctions” on Iran. “The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel set out a starkly different vision from the vice president, urging greater European and multilateral cooperation on major challenges and raising questions about recent U.S. decisions like the planned drawdown of troops from Syria. She lamented the split between the U.S. and Europe on Iran and raised common European and U.S. worries about Iran’s role in Syria and Yemen and its missile program.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, following his meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, that Europe needs “a constructive dialogue with Iran” on Syria and Yemen.

On Friday, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the Iranian nuclear deal, which saw Iran accept strict but temporary demands on its nuclear activities, was “fundamental and crucial for our security.”

“You can count on the fact that the European Union” will continue to preserve “the full implementation of the” deal.

[Mish translation: Go to Hell]

On Sunday, Mr. Zarif slammed the Warsaw conference, which included senior officials from the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, but was boycotted by Russia and included only midlevel officials from many European countries. He said the U.S. was leading a coalition “of the unwilling and the openly coerced.”

EU Moves to Block Sanctions

On January 29, Europe announced announced a payment system in Euros to avoid US dollar clearing and US sanctions. The Wall Street Journal reported Europe Opens Channel for Trade With Iran.

France, Britain and Germany, defying threats from Washington, are this week executing their plans to set up a special-payments company to secure some trade with Iran and blunt the impact of U.S. sanctions.

After months of delays, people familiar with the plan said Tuesday the three European governments had started the process of registering the company to run a payments channel that would allow goods to be bartered between European and Iranian companies without the need for direct financial transactions. The company should be established by Thursday or Friday, [Jan 31 or Feb 1] the people said.

The company is being registered in France and will be headed by a German official with the French, British and German governments as shareholders—an arrangement intended to ward off U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s threat of sanctioning the entity by putting it under the aegis of Washington’s traditional European allies.

The move is the first action by French President Emmanuel Macron to hit back at President Trump as U.S.-French ties have turned frosty.

The European Union promised to create what is known as the special-purpose vehicle as part of efforts to persuade Iran to remain in the 2015 nuclear deal following President Trump’s decision in May to pull the U.S. out of the accord and reimpose sanctions. When many smaller member countries expressed reluctance to host the company or participate directly as shareholders because of U.S. sanctions threats, the bloc’s three biggest powers proceeded with the project.

Symbolic Gesture of the Real Deal?

I suspect many if not most large EU companies that deal with the US will be reluctant to use the mechanism. But some smaller one will. And as far as I am concerned, the more the better.

After all, the UN and US European allies concluded Iran was honoring the nuclear accord.

Act of War

Sanctions on countries are an act of war.

It is clear the Trump administration is itching to start a military war with Iran. When Iranians replied "Death to America" or whatever, how can anyone blame them?

Trump fired an economic missile at Iran. When Iran responded with mere words, Trump, Pence, and John Bolton all pounded their chests and said "See, this is what Iran does".

Trump seeks to undo the one and only major accomplishment of the Obama administration, a nuclear accord and peace agreement with Iran.

How pathetic.

Even if I agreed with Trump about the dangers of Iran, one person should not get to decide sanction policy for the entire world.

Three cheers to the EU for standing up to blatant Trump administration arrogance.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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Latkes

So far, it's just words. I hope nothing happens. War with Iran would be a terrible mistake.