- The Trump administration has accused the US' European allies of "siding with the ayatollahs."
- The US wants to reimpose sanctions on Tehran, which were removed by the 2015 nuclear deal.
- However, the UK, France, and Germany have refused to comply.
- Trump walked away from The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Europe in 2018.
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The Trump administration is on a collision course with its European allies after they refused to back a controversial US move to reimpose sanctions on Iran.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday accused the UK, France, and Germany of "siding with the ayatollahs" after they said the US could not use a "snapback" mechanism to reimpose sanctions on Iran removed under the 2015 nuclear deal.
The Trump administration is seeking to reimpose sanctions on Tehran as it believes Iran has violated the terms of the 2015 agreement.
Under the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the participating countries — the UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China – lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran accepting limits on its nuclear activity, with the goal of stopping Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. However, the US walked away from the agreement in 2018.
Boris Johnson's UK government this week released a joint statement with France and Germany telling the US that it could not use "snapback" measures to reimpose sanctions as it is no longer part of the nuclear deal.
"France, Germany and the United Kingdom ("the E3") note that the US ceased to be a participant to the JCPoA following their withdrawal from the deal on May 8, 2018," it said. "We cannot therefore support this action which is incompatible with our current efforts to support the JCPOA."
Built into the 2015 agreement, "snapback" measures give a participating country the power to trigger the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran within 30 days if it notifies the UN Security Council that Tehran has violated the terms of the agreement.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Thursday said the US plan to trigger the re-imposition of sanctions after withdrawing from the deal in 2018 was "absurd," in comments reported by the BBC.
Pompeo reacted angrily to US plan being rejected. "No country but the United States has had the courage and conviction to put forward a resolution. Instead, they chose to side with the ayatollahs," he said in comments reported by the BBC.
In further comments reported by The Guardian newspaper, he said: "Their actions endanger the people of Iraq, of Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and indeed their own citizens as well.
"America won't join in this failure of leadership. America will not appease. America will lead."
The Trump administration decided to pursue "snapback" measures after its attempt to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran beyond its October expiration failed in embarrassing fashion. Last week the Dominican Republican was the only country to support a US resolution at the UN Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Iran.
Speaking about the vote last week, Pompeo said the UN Security Council's "failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable."
The disagreement over Iran is the latest episode in Washington's strained relationship with Europe.
Trump has a particularly difficult relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, exacerbated recently by his decision to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany and US opposition a new gas pipe line connecting Germany to Russia.
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