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JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – United States (US) President Donald Trump threatened Britain, France, and Germany governments with a 25 percent tariff on its cars unless they officially accused Iran of breaking the 2015 nuclear deal, global media reported on Thursday (01/16).

The secret threat last week, first reported by The Washington Post, which cited unnamed European officials, would have seen the tariff imposed on all European automobile imports to the US unless the three European Union powers agreed to the ultimatum.

It came days before the three-country on Tuesday triggered a dispute mechanism under the agreement which does amount to a formal accusation against Tehran of violating its terms. It could lead to the reinstatement of United Nations sanctions but is being framed by the Europeans as the last chance to save the nuclear deal.

The 2015 pact was agreed between Tehran and world powers, offering Iran relief from sanctions if it curbed its nuclear work. Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed US sanctions, telling Tehran he wanted a more stringent deal on nuclear and other issues.

Iran has responded to the US sanctions by scaling back its compliance with the deal, culminating with an announcement this month that it would reject all limits on production of enriched uranium, although it says it wants to keep the deal in place.

British prime minister Boris Johnson said a “Trump deal” could replace the existing one, were it to fail, while Paris said broad talks were needed. Two European diplomats confirmed to the Washinton Post that the US had threatened tariffs but said leaders of the three European states had already decided to trigger the mechanism before that. A third diplomat said such US tactics only undermined the Europeans, who are trying to apply pressure independently.

“True or not it has the effect of discrediting the Europeans, but then Trump doesn’t really care about that,” the diplomat said. “From the Iranian side, it just proves that only the US matters in this.”

The German defense minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has confirmed the thread at a press conference in London on Thursday.

“This expression or threat, as you will, does exist, she told reporters. Kramp-Karrenbauer is in Britain to meet her counterpart, Ben Wallace, to discuss Anglo-European defense cooperation post-Brexit.

The Europeans have long opposed Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, but have been threatening for months to trigger the dispute mechanism if Iran did not comply with it. The dispute mechanism begins a complex diplomatic process that can end with UN sanctions on Iran “snapping back” into place, although the Europeans say that is not their aim.

In triggering the dispute mechanism, the European countries said they were not backing a US policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran, and they still hope to salvage the nuclear deal. The nuclear dispute lies at the heart of Iran’s long-running standoff with the West that spiraled into open conflict this month when Washington killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad and Tehran responded with missile strikes on US targets in Iraq.

During that period of high alert, Iran shot down a civilian airliner in what it says was a tragic mistake. It has triggered anti-government protests at home. Enriched uranium can be used to create material for nuclear warheads. Iran denies Western accusations it wants such weapons and says it wants nuclear material for peaceful purposes.

“We are enriching more uranium than before the deal was reached,” president Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech. “Pressure has increased on Iran but we continue to progress.”

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com