Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide was on national radio Wednesday morning, deploring US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of an international agreement aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. She made it clear Norway will support efforts to keep the agreement in place among its other signatories including the EU members France, Germany and the UK along with Russia, China and Iran.
“We’re sorry the US is withdrawing from the agreement,” Søreide told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Norway played a key role in its formulation during more than two years of negotiations, and Søreide maintains that the agreement is important for regional stability and control of nuclear weapons. “It’s an agreement that so far has functioned in line with its intention, to hinder Iran’s development of nuclear weapons,” Søreide said.
She added that the US’ threat to now impose economic sanctions not only on Iran but also on other countries that have resumed doing business with Iran also creates new anxiety and uncertainty. Even though Norway can benefit economically from the US’ pullout, through higher oil prices, Søreide sees the benefits of maintaining the agreement with Iran as far more important in the long run.
Latest US assault on global cooperation
Several other European leaders were also lamenting Trump’s latest assault on international agreements. Last month he was accused of launching an international trade war that’s also set Norway on edge because of punitive tariffs on metals and a steady stream of other products. Now many fear he’ll start another war in the already tense Middle East. His allies Israel and Saudi Arabia are on both the defense and offense against Iran, which may end up as a target of strikes by either or even the US under the guise of destroying Iranian nuclear facilities.
France, Germany, Great Britain, the EU and the United Nations all disagree with Trump’s decision to dump the Iran agreement, despite otherwise being NATO allies, as is Norway. Søreide told NRK Wednesday morning that she was glad to hear that China and Russia also disagree, and are interested in trying to maintain the agreement as it is, without the US.
“That’s positive,” Søreide said, a stance also in line with her counterpart at the EU, Federica Mogherini, who was among the architects of the agreement. “The European Union regrets today’s statement by the president of the United States of America on the nuclear deal with Iran,” she told reporters. “Should the US reconsider the decision, we would welcome it.”
Iran deal ‘crucial’ for stability
The EU’s top foreign policy official stressed that “the nuclear deal is not a bilateral agreement, and it is not in the hands of any single country to terminate it unilaterally.” She noted that it was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council, has served as a key element in global non-proliferation efforts and she called it “crucial” to stabilization efforts not only in the Middle East but “in the entire world.” Norway’s Søreide wholeheartedly agreed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was among the few hailing Trump’s decision, calling it “brave and correct.” Israel is a bitter enemy of Iran, is believed to have nuclear weapons itself and is now sparking fears that it may launch strikes against Iran.
“We warned the US against pulling out of the agreement, and encouraged the EU and other partners to remain part of it should the US withdraw,” Søreide said. “We are worried about the global non-proliferation regime, but also worried for stability in a region that already is very unstable.” She expected talks to take place soon among other participants in the agreement to keep it in force amidst efforts to gather more information and deal with the effects of US sanctions. Trump’s threatened sanctions will create huge new tensions with Europe, where companies like Airbus, French oil company Total, and carmakers Volkswagen, Renault and Peugeot are all doing business in Iran. Airbus has already delivered three aircraft to Iran, while Søreide noted that Norwegian companies already are facing problems sending money in and out of Iran because of international banking restrictions.