- The Trump administration on Thursday accused the US's European allies of "siding with the ayatollahs."
- The US wants to reimpose sanctions on Iran that were removed under the 2015 nuclear deal.
- However, the UK, France, and Germany have refused to comply.
- President Donald 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 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 BBC reported.
The Trump administration is seeking to reimpose sanctions on Tehran as it believes Iran has violated the terms of the 2015 agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Under the deal, the participating countries — the UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China — lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran accepting limits on its nuclear activity, with the goal of stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The US walked away from the agreement in 2018.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government said in a joint statement with France and Germany on Thursday that the US could not use "snapback" measures to reimpose sanctions because 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 8 May, 2018," it said, adding, "We cannot therefore support this action which is incompatible with our current efforts to support the JCPoA."
The so-called snapback measures give a participating country the power to trigger the reimposition of sanctions on Iran within 30 days if it notifies the UN Security Council that Tehran has violated the terms of the agreement.
Sergei Ryabkov, a Russian deputy foreign minister, on Thursday said the US's plan to reimpose sanctions after withdrawing from the deal in 2018 was "absurd," the BBC reported.
Pompeo reacted angrily to the rejection of the US's plan. "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, according to the BBC.
According to The Guardian, he added that "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," he said. "America will not appease. America will lead."
The Trump administration decided to pursue the snapback measures after it failed to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran beyond October. The Dominican Republican was the only country to support the US resolution at the UN Security Council last week.
Pompeo said last week that 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 the US's strained relationship with Europe.
President Donald Trump has a particularly fraught relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, exacerbated recently by his decision to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany and by the US's opposition to a new gas pipeline connecting Germany and Russia.