Trump’s continued statements during his campaign that his “No. 1 priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal” have already had repercussions. On Feb. 9, French energy giant Total announced that its final decision on engaging in Iran depends on whether the United States will continue implementing the nuclear deal by renewing sanctions waivers this summer. If the Trump administration is going to “decide to tear up the Iran nuclear agreement,” Total’s CEO Patrick Pouyanne noted, “We’ll not be able to work in Iran.”
This position has been met with harsh criticism in some circles in Tehran, with one member of the Iranian Parliament even declaring in response, “The new model of oil contracts has been shelved.” However, it should be borne in mind that statements like these are arguably intended more to show strength in the domestic political debate, given that there has been no decision by the parliament or the government in this regard.
Rather, Zangeneh has sought to temper expectations, remarking on the challenges after the lifting of sanctions, “Two-meter-thick ice does not melt in one night.” At any rate, the episode highlights the difficult circumstances under which the Rouhani administration is seeking to realize international cooperation in the Iranian energy sector.
Europe’s welcoming of an Iranian oil tanker, coinciding with the Trump administration assuming office, is a positive step forward and a symbol of the progress made possible by the nuclear deal. But from the point of view of Brussels and Tehran, both of which have publicly committed themselves to continue implementing the nuclear deal, it also draws attention to the challenges ahead in safeguarding the nuclear deal.
(Picture: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)