Journalist John Steppling believes that European nations benefit economically to a certain degree from doing business with Tehran.
Sputnik: As relations between the US and Iran continue to worsen, what effect would compensation and efforts from European countries have on the standoff between Tehran and Washington?
John Steppling: I think that the European countries, NATO countries, are loath to do anything to offend Washington. It may be in their economic interest to some degree, Germany certainly, to be able to do business with Iran. The US represents a massive market that European countries are tied into, have been tied into for a long time, and that's a much bigger loss than what they stand to lose not being able to work with Iran in any way.
What Europe decides to do, I think, is a foregone conclusion. They're not going to offend Washington; they're not going to do anything to offend Washington, the policy, the sanctions, all of it. They're not going to offend Washington because they just can't afford to do it.
Sputnik: What could this so-called compensation look like? Could it mean a relaxing of sanctions?
John Steppling: Well, it's very hard to tell. I think that's a mysterious remark on the part of Iran. I mean what compensation? What does that mean exactly in this context? There is no compromise. That's the word, and I can't see that a compromise will emerge in the immediate future because it's just not set up that way and Washington has taken such an intractable and excessive stance on this that it's very hard to see what a compromise or what a lessening of the tensions would look like.
Sputnik: If the UK gets involved, what effect will this have on relations between Britain and the US?
John Steppling: There is a split in the Trump administration, I think that's clear, and if I were to predict something, I'd say John Bolton may well lose his job. The UK did seize the tanker recently and one can imagine that was not cleared with Washington.
So there are these provocations going on at the last minute; Trump decided to not retaliate for the drone shoot-down, which decision elicited a lot of condemnation from Britain and we had the leaks of the diplomats the other day, claiming that the Trump administration was inept and incoherent, something that everybody in the world knows already, I think, but [it] was [an] extraordinarily hypocritical thing for the diplomat to say that those kinds of leaks are always plants anyway.
There's a lot of bad blood here already between European countries and Washington. It's unlikely that in the immediate future we're going to see anything like actual shots fired, but I think other things will escalate. I think the economic tensions will worsen. I think Washington has painted itself into a bit of a corner here. Short of launching an all-out war, we're likely to see a continuation of the status quo right now.
The views and opinions, expressed in the article are those of John Steppling and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.