Europe’s Plea to Congress: Keep the Iran Pact

Diplomats from countries that brokered the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement met in Vienna in March and declared that it was working.Credit Joe Klamar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Diplomats from countries that brokered the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement met in Vienna in March and declared that it was working.Credit Joe Klamar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

This article has been updated to reflect recent developments.

There are few things more worrisome to imagine than the situation we have today in the Middle East. One, however, would be the current situation in the Middle East with nuclear-armed states.

So far, the international regime of nonproliferation has effectively kept the number of nuclear-armed states at bay, even within the context of the continuing regional cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The most important and promising step taken toward nonproliferation in the past 20 years — the one with the most impact — is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. A document 159 pages long, it was signed in Vienna with the Islamic Republic of Iran almost three years ago by the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany. It is not only a historical landmark — the crowning achievement of 12 years of intense diplomatic negotiations — but also a safeguard against a nuclear Middle East.

Yet President Trump and his administration have threatened to pull out of this compact. America’s withdrawal would put the agreement at high risk; it might also prompt the Iranians to leave the pact, starting a nuclear race in the region. It would drive a wedge in the trans-Atlantic partnership and drive Europe into a kind of forced marriage with the Russians and Chinese to save at least part of the deal.

Of course, we are not blind to the discord and disarray resulting from Iran’s actions and attitude in the region. We strongly condemn its contribution to the war in Syria and its backing of the murderous government of President Bashar al-Assad, as well as Iran’s support, by varying degrees, of nonstate actors like Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. However, by taking the threat that Iran would develop a nuclear weapon off the table, the pact has effectively limited that country’s means to carry out its destabilizing activities.

Those are the reasons that France, Germany and Britain, which form the E3 group, continue to support the agreement and are calling on President Trump to make good on the commitment we took, together with the United States, on July 14, 2015, in Vienna. Now we, members of parliaments in the E3, have decided to raise our voices to tell the United States Congress that we stand by our trans-Atlantic commitments and to warn of the disastrous consequences of an American withdrawal from the Vienna agreement.

To that end, we have written a letter being published Thursday and Friday by leading newspapers in France, Germany and Britain calling on the members of Congress to bring their full backing to the nuclear deal and prevent their government from pulling out of this major diplomatic achievement. The letter has been signed by more than 500 members of France’s National Assembly, Germany’s Bundestag and Britain’s House of Commons. The signatories as of Thursday afternoon — 362 French, 70 British and 75 German — represent the entire political spectrum of our home countries. They may disagree on internal policies and on other international issues, but they agree on one thing: The compact is a major achievement of our collective security, in the Middle East and beyond.

As elected representatives, we have taken this extraordinary step of rallying hundreds of our fellow members of parliament across our political aisles, and of reaching out to our American colleagues, because we firmly believe that the diplomatic strength of a strong and unified trans-Atlantic partnership is needed today more than ever. As Europeans, we are undertaking this cross-European, cross-parliamentary initiative to show the international community that Europe’s democracies will rise in solidarity on critical international problems.

We are pleading to the men and women of Congress to play their part in keeping the nuclear deal alive. We know that the citizens we represent are the people who make the formulas of our shared values come alive every day. With equal fervor on both sides of the Atlantic, they strive for liberty and believe in human rights and the rule of law. These are principles upon which we can build a more just world order.

The need for such a world order is obvious, and not just in relation to confrontation with Iran. We need all of our forces and credibility to help broker an understanding between Iran and Saudi Arabia as the main antagonists in the Middle East today. We need those strengths also to offer a credible alternative to radical ideologies that thrive on discord, instability, repression and corruption in many parts of the world. And we need them to strengthen the principles of democracy, the same principles that so many Americans gave their lives for in helping to liberate Europe from fascism in the not so distant past.

Delphine O, Omid Nouripour and Richard Bacon. In their respective parliaments, Ms. O represents France’s En Marche party, Mr. Nouripour Germany’s Green Party, and Mr. Bacon Britain’s Conservative Party.

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