British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has become the latest foreign politician to advocate for a Nobel Peace Prize for President Trump — unless he makes a mess out of things.
“If he can fix North Korea and if he can fix the Iran nuclear deal, then I don’t see why he’s any less of a candidate for a Nobel Peace Prize than Barack Obama, who got it before he even did anything,” Johnson told Sky News on Monday.
It’s the second time within two weeks that a leading foreign politician has mentioned the possibility of a Nobel Peace Prize for Trump. At the end of April, South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, rejected suggestions that he should win the prestigious award himself for his negotiations with Pyongyang, instead crediting Trump. “President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. The only thing we need is peace,” Moon said. Trump’s nomination for the prize by a dozen and a half House Republicans last week may have come less as a surprise, but why are foreign officials of nations, many of them wary of Trump, suddenly so full of praise?
Both Moon and Johnson appear to believe that crediting Trump is essential to have the president work with them. And when the British foreign secretary says he hopes that Trump will “fix” the Iran deal, what he really means is that he hopes Trump won’t do what he has very publicly said he will do: withdraw from it.
Despite his criticism, he has reluctantly certified Iran’s compliance in the past. That may change on Tuesday, with an expected announcement by Trump on future U.S. support for the deal.
A U.S. decision to withdraw would not come as a huge surprise to its European allies. Trump had already announced a withdrawal of presidential “certification” of the Iran nuclear deal in October, ahead of a prior deadline. His decision did not automatically result in the United States leaving the agreement, however.
This time — as a supposedly final U.S. deadline Trump set himself is quickly approaching — the stakes are much higher, even though all other signatories of the deal said they want to stick to it. France, Britain and Germany have urged the president to drop his resistance and have threatened to stay committed to the agreement even if the United States decides to leave it. (China and Russia are also parties to the deal and are unsurprisingly also in favor of keeping it.)
“We have a deal at the moment that is working. The IAEA has done 400 inspections. We’ve been able to reduce Iran’s centrifuges by two-thirds, their enriched uranium by 95 percent,” Johnson said on Monday. “These things are working, so keep the core of it, fix the rest.”
Even though there might be flaws, the current deal is better than no deal, European governments are arguing. Germany’s intelligence service said Iranian “proliferation efforts for its nuclear program” significantly decreased following the deal’s implementation.
Iranian exports to the European Union increased by 375 percent from 2015 to 2016, and European companies have already invested a significant amount of money in the country, raising the stakes of any decision that could result in the deal’s collapse.
If Europe chose to stick to the deal, it would side against the United States with three of the countries it is most at odds with: Russia, China and Iran. German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged that possibility in a January conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to news site Axios, which quoted Merkel as saying: “It will put us, the Brits and the French on the same side with Russia, China and Iran when the U.S. and Israel will be on the other side. Is this what you want?”
It’s a question that may also be relevant to the committee in charge of choosing next year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner.