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Learning From a Troubled Experience - Transatlantic Lessons from the Nuclear Standoff with Iran


With the US eventually embracing the European-devised 'dual track' approach comprising both sanctions and incentives, the transatlantic partners have currently reached a remarkable level of convergence on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear conundrum. Although EU-US unity might not be enough to solve the dispute, the experience of transatlantic cooperation on Iran offers some important lessons. It shows that strategic convergence between the transatlantic partners, or lack thereof, has a considerable impact on the way a crisis unfolds in an area in which both parties have a stake. It highlights the added value represented by European/EU political and economic assets in a situation in which US military options are both unlikely to have the desired effect and at grave risk of backlash. Finally, it sets an important precedent for a specific option for intra-EU and EU-US cooperation - the contact or lead group - that seems to suit the emerging multipolar world better than other, more institutionalised methods.