UK and EU partners urge US to stick with Iran deal

The UK and its European partners have urged the Trump administration not to leave the Iran nuclear deal, on the eve of a key US decision about re-imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

At a meeting in Brussels attended by the Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, the three EU signatories to the deal, insisted that Iran was complying with the agreement signed in 2015.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described the deal as a “considerable diplomatic accomplishment. I don’t think that anybody has produced a better alternative to the JCPOA as a way of preventing the Iranians from going ahead with the acquisition of a military nuclear capability”. He said the onus was on critics of the deal to come up with a “better alternative”.

He added that Iran should also build “worldwide support” for this agreement by showing “it is a good neighbour in the region”. “We should focus on what Iran can do to resolve the appalling crisis in Yemen, to push forward peace in Syria, and resolve other questions in the region”, said Johnson.

He later tweeted: “Raised all our Iranian dual-national consular cases and the treatment of BBC Persian with Javad Zarif. UK continues to press for the observation of human rights and press freedom in Iran.”

The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said the deal, denounced by US President Donald Trump as the worst ever made, had in reality “made the world safer and prevented a potential nuclear arms race in the region”.

The European ministers did express concern about Iran’s ballistic missile programme, saying that it was “inconsistent with UNSCR 2231 and is a destabilising factor in the region” and called for Iran “ to put an end to the ballistic missile launches inconsistent with the resolution and to respond to the offer of dialogue on this issue”.

Trump is due to decide today whether to extend US sanctions relief for many Iranian institutions and individuals. Reports this week have suggested that he will extend a sanctions wavier for Iran but also impose new, targeted sanctions on Iran to punish its ballistic missile testing, support for terrorism and human rights violations. According to an unnamed official, Trump will set a deadline for Congress and European allies to improve the deal or the US will abandon it.