The UK will face “serious consequences” if it does not side with the US over Iran, warned President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UK. Writing in a British newspaper, Ambassador Woody Johnson ratchets up pressure on its key ally in an unprecedented editorial where he called on British leaders to join the US in “turning up the pressure” on Iran.
“We are asking global Britain to use its considerable diplomatic power and influence and join us as we lead a concerted global effort towards a genuinely comprehensive agreement,” Johnson wrote in an article penned for the Telegraph. “Together, we can help bring about the peace and prosperity in Iran that the whole world wants to see.”
In the threatening article whose tone may come as a surprise to many given the long friendship between the two countries, Johnson also called on British business leaders to side with the US regardless of what their governments decide.
“The president has been explicit: any businesses which put their own commercial interests in Iran ahead of the global goodwill risk serious consequences for their trade with the United States,” Johnson wrote, reminding the UK of President Trump’s tweet earlier this month where he said: “The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”
The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2018
Johnson’s comments follow Trump’s acrimonious decision to abandon his traditional allies in Europe, along with Russia and China over the nuclear deal with Iran. Since tearing up the nuclear deal signed by his predecessor, President Barack Obama in 2015, Trump has been bellicose in his efforts to bring the European in line. The European Union, headed by France, Britain and Germany on this issue, doubled down on their commitment to protecting European companies from secondary US sanctions.
In another surprising move, Nathalie Tocci, an aide to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, is reported to have told Britain’s BBC Radio 4 last week that Europe would issue additional sanctions against any EU business that caves to Trump’s pressure.
“If EU companies abide by US secondary sanctions they will, in turn, be sanctioned by the EU,” Tocci warned, according to Newsweek. Her comments followed another statement from the EU that said it would “forbid” European entities from complying with Washington’s punitive policies.
Despite Johnson’s threat, an unnamed British Foreign Office official told Voice of America on Sunday that the UK remained “committed to the nuclear deal”.
Britain’s resolve will be tested to the limit on its standoff with the US. As of 2016, the Kingdom’s trade with Iran stood a little short of half a billion dollars. Conversely, imports and exports between the US and the UK both top $100 billion annually, according to the American Chamber of Commerce.
Equally, just how long the US can continue to alienate its traditional allies without harming itself remains to be seen. While Washington is in a standoff with the Europeans, it is locking horns with Turkey as well as its greatest economic rival China.