Nations vow to save Iran nuclear deal after US pullout
MOSCOW / PARIS
World powers have vowed to uphold a landmark deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement, raising fears of a fresh confrontation with Tehran.
Russia will maintain close coordination on nuclear issues with Iran despite the United States’ move, Russian Foreign Ministry said on May 10.
Trump’s decision to ditch the accord and re-impose sanctions on the Islamic republic risks overturning years of painstaking diplomacy,
worsening instability in the Middle East and threatens foreign companies’ business in Iran worth billions of dollars.
Iran reacted furiously, with lawmakers burning a U.S. flag and chanting “Death to America” in the Iranian parliament. But its regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Israel applauded the U.S. move.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran too should quit the nuclear deal unless Europeans offer solid guarantees that trade relations would continue.
“If you don’t succeed in obtaining a definitive guarantee -- and I really doubt that you can -- at that moment, we cannot continue like this,” he told Iran’s government in a televised speech.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani agreed on May 9 to work toward the continued implementation of the nuclear deal despite the U.S. decision, which Macron called “a mistake.”
Other signatories, including major trade partner Beijing, promised to work to keep the accord in place.
China insisted it would maintain “normal economic and trade exchanges with Tehran” and “continue to devote itself to safeguard and implement the deal.”
Earlier German Chancellor Angela Merkel said European signatories would “do everything” to ensure the agreement’s parameters remain in place.
Slapping aside more than a decade and a half of diplomacy by Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia and past US administrations, Trump called Tuesday for a “new and lasting deal.”
He described the accord as an “embarrassment” to the United States that did nothing to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
But the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, which is charged with ensuring Iran abides by the terms of the deal, said Wednesday Tehran was upholding its “nuclear-related commitments”.
“Iran is subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime,” said International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general Yukiya Amano.
Trump said a deal with Iran would have to include not just deeper restrictions on its nuclear program, but on its ballistic missiles and support for militant groups across the Middle East.
“We will not allow a regime that chants ‘Death to America’ to gain access to the most deadly weapons on Earth,” he said.
In response, Rouhani warned Iran could resume uranium enrichment “without limit.”
But he also said Iran would discuss its response with other parties to the deal before announcing a decision.
Iran has always denied seeking a nuclear weapon, insisting its atomic program was for civilian purposes.