After months of swaggering hesitation, President Trump finally announced the United States’ withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran, to which Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and the European Union are also parties. This action tramples on European leaders, who urged Mr. Trump to exercise restraint in the interest of international security and multilateralism.
Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, reacted to Mr. Trump’s announcement with a sharp statement. The European Union and the rest of the international community, she said, would “preserve this nuclear deal.” The question is how. Notwithstanding an abundance of kvetching, European powers have not yet shown Mr. Trump that he has anything to fear from ignoring their wishes.
To be sure, European leaders have expended plenty of verbiage, illuminating the broad consensus that Iran is abiding by the terms of the deal. President Emmanuel Macron of France implored the Trump administration not to scupper the agreement during a recent visit to Washington. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany echoed his sentiments, as did Britain’s foreign minister, Boris Johnson, in these pages on Sunday.
But mere words aren’t going to dissuade this White House. Since taking office, Mr. Trump has treated Europe like a doormat, questioning the value of NATO, ridiculing the mission of the European Union and dismissing European exhortations on policy matters.
Given all this, the European Union in particular may feel compelled to acknowledge the harsh reality that it has yet to act like an organization with a G.D.P. roughly equal to that of the United States — and to change the situation by signaling to Washington that on certain matters it refuses to be ignored. The trouble the European Union has had uniting around highly sensitive issues — immigration, for example — is perhaps understandable. But the Iran deal does not appear to be divisive: From the pro-Brexit Mr. Johnson to the avowed internationalist Mr. Macron, European politicians understand its value.
What can Europe do to get Mr. Trump’s attention? President Hassan Rouhani of Iran has indicated that his country will continue to adhere to the terms of the deal for the time being and deal with other parties to it in hopes of securing its benefits. This confers on the European Union, Britain and France — all of which are parties — some leverage. Acknowledging Iran’s compliance and continuing to do business with Iran without imposing sanctions would mitigate the