Donald Trump has recently pulled US out of the Iran Nuclear deal:

US President Donald Trump says he will withdraw the US from an Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran.

Calling it "decaying and rotten", he said the deal was "an embarrassment" to him "as a citizen".

Going against advice from European allies, he said he would reimpose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.

I find it concerning that the US and EU have opposite positions when it comes to such an important deal.

Question: Why did the USA want to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran?

This question and its answers explain about the Iran nuclear deal weaknesses and why it is frowned upon by the US and Russia. These answers provide a justification for Trump's recent action, but do not seem to explain the EU's (European allies) position on this matter.

So, my question can be reduced to: since the nuclear deal seems to have so many weaknesses, why are EU leaders "determined to preserve" the deal?


4 Answers 4


Donald Trump has shown an enormous amount of, if hate isn't the right word, dislike for almost all of his predecessor's policies. He has reversed everything from the Paris Agreement to Obamacare to the Cuba policy.

Especially when it comes to Palestine and Israel the current and former administration has taken diametrically opposite stances. Obama did not veto a UN resolution that condemned Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. Trump did move the US embassy to Jersualem, half of which the EU consider part of the occupied Palestinian territories.

Given that Trump has strongly aligned himself against Obama's policies and in favor of Israel's interests, it makes perfect sense for him to cancel the Iran nuclear deal. When it was signed in 2015, it was strongly opposed by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu who claimed it "would threaten the survival of Israel."

The EU leaders position are much easier to explain. They believe that Iran honored the deal and are not seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Therefore the deal should be kept. Donald Trump has also angered the EU by imposing tariffs on goods produced in the union. The US-EU relations were already pretty bad and likely aren't made that much worse by the EU not following the US lead on the Iran nuclear deal.


They are not. (this really should be the end of the answer)

President Trump and the EU are out of sync about the nuclear deal. The majority of lawmakers in all participating countries agree on the benefits of the deal and the fact that Iran has not violated it.

The reason that some in the US are not in favor of the deal are that

  1. they don't think it quite goes far enough and
  2. they don't quite understand it. In the past few days Trump has grossly misrepresented what's actually in the deal and whether or not it expires.
  • 5
    I think this is largely correct, but it needs some references. Also it seems evident that Trump is very much out of sync with Europe on this agreement, so, when you begin with "They are not" that's a tricky argument. Not necessarily wrong, but you need more evidence if you want that argument to fly.
    – userLTK
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 18:42
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    The US and the EU are not out of sync, Trump and the EU is. I guess I should make that clearer ?
    – xyious
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 20:28
  • 1
    @xyious - interesting perspective (+1). However, from the EU's perspective Trump's decision means US's perspective, doesn't it?
    – Alexei
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 21:32
  • 2
    Not necessarily. While the average EU citizen will likely not make a distinction between "Trump", "The US Government" and "The US", the EU lawmakers are quite aware of the situation at the top of the US government. It's no secret to them (and he has demonstrated that in person) that Trump doesn't listen to his advisers, ignores allies and doesn't give much consideration to the eventual effects of his policies.
    – xyious
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 16:00
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    [citation needed] in regards to "the majority of lawmakers... agree to the benefits of the deal." There's a reason the deal was never ratified as an actual treaty by the U.S. Senate in the first place.
    – reirab
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 19:00

Much like with Iraq, the US started from their politically-based desired answer, and worked backwards to justify them.

The EU seems to be evaluating the situation based on facts.

The Iran nuclear accord, assailed by President Trump and his revamped retinue of advisers, received a strong endorsement Monday from a bipartisan group of more than 100 national security veterans, who said the United States gains nothing by scrapping it.

The group, including 50 retired military officers and at least four former American ambassadors to Israel, added its voice to a fractious debate over the accord, which Mr. Trump has called “the worst deal” ever.

NY Times: US Experts Day Why Trump Should Support Iran Deal

Iran is adhering to the restrictions imposed on its nuclear program under a 2015 agreement, the United Nations agency charged with monitoring the country's facilities has said in its first report since President Trump refused to certify the Islamic republic's compliance.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a confidential report viewed by Reuters and several other news outlets Monday that Iran's stockpiles of enriched uranium have not exceeded the agreed limit of 300 kilograms. It also reported that IAEA inspectors were able to gain access to any sites they tried to visit.

The quarterly report marked the ninth successive time the IAEA has attested that Iran is meeting its commitments since the nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers, including the United States, was implemented early last year.

Washington Post: IAEA confirms Iran is meeting its commitments under nuclear agreement

Fact and fiction often diverge.

If the deal was so flawed and wasn't working, why would the USA insist that the inspections that have been occurring continue, even if they back out of the deal?

The White House wants intrusive inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites to continue despite President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from a landmark accord on Tehran’s atomic program, US officials have told AFP.

Days after the US president walked away from a three-year-old deal that mandated rigorous scrutiny of Iranian facilities, senior administration officials said monitoring should continue regardless.

MSN: US says Iran nuclear inspections must go on, despite withdrawal from deal


I think US have a big reason to break the deal:

  • Iran is for now the main and the most powerful US and Israel regional opponent in the middle-east. Benjamin Netanyahu last speech about Iran and its nuclear problem just additionally claimed it.

  • For now Iran is finishing pro-Shia area, starting at Syria and finishing on itself. It is unacceptable for Israel and US, they are trying to prevent it. War with Islamists is near it's end, so escalation is necessary, right now.

There are also some problems for US with this escalation:

  • If military escalation takes place, oil prices will just fly up, because Persian gull and especially Ormuzian strait are critical for oil transferring.
  • Also, that won't be so easy as Iraq invasion. Iran forces are MUCH more powerful, they now have russian modern surface-to-air systems (S-300).

While EU is on the opposite position:

  • they don't want to lose contracts further (for example, despite of the fact of the deal, US some time ago blocks selling pack of Airbus A-350 from EU to Iran), and
  • they don't want to lose money on oil prices rushing up.
  • Many French(and other EU) companies have oil concessions in Iran, this is also the money which EU don't want to lose.

In fact, this is a very dangerous step for the US. But US is losing the international influence - it is fact, for now. Even Trump himself claims it: "We are tired of being a world policeman". So US need a big bang to show all, that they still have some force.

  • 10
    I don't understand how your reasons have anything to do with the deal. The deal was exclusively about nuclear weapons and preventing Iran form obtaining them. How does breaking the deal, allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons, in any way improve the Israel situation or the sponsoring of terrorism that Iran is doing in the area ?
    – xyious
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 16:03
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    If the rest of the world keeps the deal in place, the sanctions on Iran are minimal. They have to buy airbus instead of boeing, they have to buy volkswagen instead of ford. Also they can't sell oil to the second biggest consumer. Other than that, what's the downside for Iran here ?
    – xyious
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 16:01
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    Also, what exactly allows the US to take military options ? Are we really advocating ignoring the United Nations and invading a foreign country ? Isn't the United Nations supposed to aid the country getting invaded with their full military might ? (That's china, russia, etc. beyond just US allies)
    – xyious
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 16:03
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    Why are rising oil prices a problem for the USA? They are currently an oil exporting country. And their main ally in the area Saudi Arabia will also like rising prices. Do you really believe Trump cares about e.g. Japan? Commented May 12, 2018 at 0:17
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    @MartinSchröder, this is a really smart comment. Yes, it is not a direct problem to the US. It is problem for US that rising oil prices will be an advantage for Russia, and cries "Trump is a russian agent" may get louder. But also yes, this is not a direct problem for the US, you are right Commented May 15, 2018 at 6:02

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