He’s threatened tariffs before but now he’s serious. President Trump has issued a private threat of 25% tariffs on all imported vehicles from Europe unless Britain, France, and Germany formally accused Iran of breaking the 2015 nuclear deal. Officials in all three countries were shocked at the idea of such a threat.
“The tariff threat is a mafia-like tactic and it’s not how relations between allies typically work,” says Jeffrey Shapiro from the European Council on Foreign Relations. Trump has used this threat in the past to bend trade imbalances to favor the US according to Automotive News. Nothing like import tariffs has ever been used as a wedge to shift foreign policy.
It is not clear why Trump made the threat
It’s not clear why Trump even made the announcement. The Europeans have already signaled their intention to begin the dispute mechanism all along, according to US News. This begins a 65-day time limit to negotiate with Iran to return to full compliance with the original deal. If not settled in that time period UN sanctions can be imposed on Iran. Those sanctions include such things as a blanket arms embargo.
Officials in the three countries have said they intended to initiate the 65-day mechanism. But they almost reversed course because they didn’t want to be viewed as stooges of Trump if the threat was ever made public.
Both the White House and the State Department have not commented on Trump’s threat. It was revealed, however, that the threat was made directly to officials of the three countries instead of the formal path through their embassies in Washington.
Iran began developing nuclear weapons after Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal
Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal in 2018. He said at the time the reason for abandoning the pact was as a strategy to force Iran to agree to a more expanded deal. Since then Iran has ramped up its nuclear program to build bombs since it no longer has to commit to anything having to do with the agreement. Additionally, even Russia sees no grounds to set off the dispute mechanism.
Iran has denied its nuclear program aims to build bombs. It’s calling Trump’s threats a “strategic mistake.” The Trump administration has struggled to explain how it intends to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. It withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018. The US forged the deal with Iran in 2015. Iran had been abiding by the plan which placed limits on its nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions formerly placed on the country.
This is commercializing foreign policy
This is commercializing foreign policy. It sets a bad precedent for future attempts by foreign countries to try the same thing to American companies. You are mistaken if you believe that most foreign manufacturers build their cars in the US. Many of those companies having factories here still import a majority of their vehicles to the US.
These European manufacturers currently import vehicles to the US; Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, Ferrari, Fiat, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Lotus, Maserati, Mini, Porsche, Rolls Royce, Smart, and Volvo.