German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron chat in Strasbourg, France, in July 2017. Photo: EU
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The future of the Iran nuclear deal hangs in the balance as French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel separately will visit US President Donald Trump later this month in Washington.
Macron is set to make a state visit to the White House on April 24, followed by Merkel on April 27.
"It's important to them and I know they'll raise their hopes and concerns when they travel here to the United States in the coming days," said Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State (pending Senate approval).
John Bolton, Trump's new national security advisor, has also been an outspoken critic of Iranian interference in the Middle East.
Trump has set May 12 as the date when the nuclear deal — "the worst deal ever," according to the president — must be "fixed" or the United States will rescind its participation in the agreement.
Trump has pushed for the deal to be scrapped. Some have favored partitioning the deal to address Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs separately.
Iran has denied supplying Houthi rebels in Yemen with missiles, claiming the country is capable of manufacturing its own. US Ambassador Nikki Haley brought alleged evidence of Iranian-made missiles intercepted by Saudi Arabia to the UN floor in December 2014.
European and Iranian officials have separately said they will not renegotiate the deal.
"Considering what has been envisaged in the JCPOA in the field of research and development and the Islamic Republic of Iran's continued measures to develop its peaceful nuclear capability, if the US makes the mistake of exiting the JCPOA, it will definitely be a painful mistake for the Americans," Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif said in March.
"We are determined to ensure that the Vienna accord is respected," said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian last month.
“Now we will all try to convince the Americans ... that calling the agreement into question will not increase security,” former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said.
Gabriel's replacement, Heiko Mass, who assumed office last month, said on April 5 that Berlin will exert “considerable efforts” to protect the nuclear deal, despite concerns about the missile program.
The nuclear deal was reached between Iran and the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the European Union (China, France, Russia, the UK and the US) plus Germany (P5+1) under former US President Barack Obama's administration in July 2015 and came into effect in January 2016.