WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Donald Trump warned the three European parties to the Iran nuclear deal that he would impose high tariffs on automobile exports if they did not confront Iran over its increased uranium enrichment.
The Washington Post on Wednesday reported the threat, which was made a week before the countries formally complained about the increased enrichment. The Post quoted anonymous U.S. and European officials, but the German defense minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, confirmed the threat at a news conference Thursday in London.
Britain, Germany and France planned to file a complaint about the increased uranium enrichment under the deal’s mechanism in any case, the Post reported.
Trump throughout his presidency has leveraged threats of tariffs in attempts to leverage more favorable trade deals, but it is highly unusual to use economic leverage to influence an ally’s unrelated foreign policy decisions. The European parties to the deal have sharply criticized Trump’s pullout in May 2018, saying the pact is the best means to keep Iran from becoming nuclear. Trump wants to replace it with a more stringent agreement.
Iran started violating the terms of the 2015 sanctions relief for nuclear rollback deal some time after Trump pulled out the United States. It has accelerated its violations in recent months as U.S.-Iran tensions have escalated.
On Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed that his country was enriching more uranium than it did before the deal.