Merkel defends Iran deal, multilateralism but Pence resists
German Chancellor Angela Merkel robustly defended European nations’ decision to stand by the Iran nuclear deal in a spirited backing Saturday of her multilateral approach to global affairs, but U.S. Vice President Mike Pence promptly accused Europe of once again undermining the United States.
Merkel’s comments at the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of top global defense and foreign policy officials, followed days of tensions between Washington and Europe over Iran.
U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement last year, leaving the others involved — Germany, Britain, France, China, Russia and the European Union — scrambling to try and keep it alive. The deal offers Iran sanctions relief for limiting its nuclear program, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has said so far that Tehran is sticking to the agreement.
But the U.S. argues that the deal just puts off when Iran might be able to build a nuclear bomb. Pence pushed at the conference for Europeans to end their involvement in the nuclear deal, calling Iran “the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”
“The time has come for our European partners to stop undermining U.S. sanctions against this murderous revolutionary regime,” Pence said. “The time has come for our European partners to stand with us and with the Iranian people, our allies and friends in the region. The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.”