The American desire to end the Iran nuclear deal concluded in 2015 has caused an unprecedented rift between the United States and its main European allies, which may be prolonged if US President Donald Trump is re-elected for a second term.
In the past, the rift was not so deep: Europeans backed by Beijing, Moscow and Tehran, on Sunday, considered the US declaration to re-impose UN sanctions on Iran that it had no legal value.
A transatlantic rift has already occurred, as happened during the invasion of Iraq, for example, in 2003.
But the United States faced at that time the opposition of France, not Britain.
“This is the first time that the British have opposed the United States on a subject that the State Department considers essential,” said Pascal Boniface, director of the Institute for International and Strategic Relations.
He added that Britain has maintained its position despite “the demands of the United States that have become more urgent” and the permanent chasm that Brexit created with the rest of Europe.
Washington’s position has thrown the United Nations into an unprecedented legal loophole as it opens Tuesday the annual general assembly, which is supposed to highlight pluralism.
In the Iranian file, Washington has been facing for more than two years a united front formed by London, Paris and Berlin, which considers that its security is threatened by the risks of nuclear proliferation.
The United States stresses that “it is not afraid to be alone”.
The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, intensified his statements regarding the Europeans accused of “not moving a finger” towards Iran and “choosing to stand with the Islamic Republic”.
This rift over the Iran file initiated by President Donald Trump constitutes the main point in the disintegration of relations between the United States and their oldest and closest European allies.
Three years ago, the rift appeared in other important issues such as, Climate, Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and NATO – as well as during negotiations at the United Nations on less important issues.
What caused a great surprise among European diplomats who were not accustomed to such hegemony, Washington went so far as to use the right of veto or to propose draft counter-resolutions to impose its vision, a behavior that has often been allocated until now to US opponents.
In December 2018, Britain angered Washington after it drafted a text on Yemen that did not target Iran and criticize Saudi Arabia.
And in April 2019 Washington rewrote a text drafted by Germany on sexual violence that made frequent reference to international justice.
Last year, an expert in the International Crisis Group, Richard Gwan, revealed that “the absence of strategic unity between Westerners in the Security Council gives Russia and China a diplomatic channel to give advances to their interests in New York”.
Bertrand Paddy, a professor at the Institute for Political Studies in Paris, believes that the Europeans have become “stagnant” in the Iranian file.
“Basically the priority for the Europeans is to preserve the alliance with the United States because they need it, since they are unable to guarantee a defensive or foreign European policy,” he added.
“They all say, ‘We have to stand for 43 days plus'” until the due date of the US presidential elections on November 3.
Many hope that the victory of Democrat Joe Biden will return the United States to international forums from which it has distanced itself from and will restore cohesion to Western alliances.
“If Biden is elected, one of his priorities will be to repair the strained and even damaged relations between the European Union countries and the United States,” said Pascal Boniface.
The US and the Europeans will seek to “set things right” by reintegrating the United States into some international agreements, says Francois Hesburg, special advisor at the Foundation for Strategic Research.
“But in the event of Donald Trump’s re-election, there is a real threat that he will exploit this to break NATO.
And the Iranian file is one of the excuses that he might use to raise questions about the role of the United States in NATO.
The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister announced Thursday that Russia intends to develop its military cooperation with Iran after the end of the international arms embargo on October 18, despite US threats.
Deputy Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Interfax, “After the end of the special regime in effect under International Resolution No. 2231 on October 18, new prospects for cooperation with Iran in the military field will open before us”.