Poland Breaks With EU on Iran Deal, Plans to Defend U.S. Stance

Prime minister offers to play 'go-between' for Europe and the U.S. as the foreign minister says he 'understands U.S. concerns'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, meets with Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz at the State Department in Washington, Monday, May 21, 2018.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Polish leaders are planning to defend the U.S. government's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal within the European Union, where the decision has been strongly criticized.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Tuesday that Poland wants to be an "informal go-between" and to explain to EU members and U.S. officials the positions of the other.

The Polish government's mediation offer departs somewhat from the united front EU leaders displayed last week in voicing their continued support for the landmark nuclear deal.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said Monday during a visit to Washington that Poland stands with the rest of the EU in seeking actions to limit economic damage from the Trump administration's move, "while as for the strategic and security dimension, we also understand the U.S. concerns."

Last Friday, The European Commission launched a process of activating a law that bans European companies from complying with U.S. sanctions against Iran and does not recognize any court rulings that enforce American penalties. 

"As the European Commission we have the duty to protect European companies. We now need to act and this is why we are launching the process of activating the 'blocking statute' from 1996. We will do that tomorrow morning at 10:30 A.M.," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. 

The EU wants to salvage the Iran nuclear deal, which offers the Islamic Republic relief from economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program and Europe sees as an important element of international security. 
The EU's so-called blocking statute bans any EU company from complying with U.S. sanctions and does not recognize any court rulings that enforce American penalties.