LUXEMBOURG/MOSCOW: The EU is to dispatch its chief diplomat Federica Mogherini to Washington next month to fight for the Iran nuclear deal after US President Donald Trump threatened to tear it up.
EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday joined a chorus of international support for the landmark 2015 accord, warning that Trump’s hard-line stance jeopardized efforts to find a peaceful solution to the nuclear crisis with North Korea.
Trump caused alarm across the Atlantic with a belligerent speech on Friday in which he stopped short of pulling out of the agreement but warned he could do so at any time, restating his belief that the deal was letting Iran off the hook.
He left it to the US Congress to decide whether to reimpose sanctions that were lifted in return for Tehran abandoning its nuclear ambitions.
Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy head, said she would “be in Washington in early November” to urge US lawmakers not to pull out of the deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was negotiated with Iran over 12 painstaking years by the US, Britain, France, China, Germany and Russia.
Ditching the deal when Tehran has repeatedly been certified as keeping up its end of the bargain by UN inspectors would send a signal to North Korea that negotiating with the international community is a waste of time, EU ministers fear.
“Clearly the ministers are concerned about the fact that messages on the JCPOA might affect negatively the possibility of opening negotiations or opening even the space for negotiations with the DPRK,” Mogherini told reporters after the bloc’s 28 foreign ministers held talks in Luxembourg.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Trump’s hard-line stance risked dragging the world back to a “military confrontation” with Iran.
“The threatened termination of the deal with Iran of course undermines the credibility of such international treaties,” he said.
The leaders of France, Britain and Germany gave a rebuke to Trump in a joint statement on Friday, which said the deal remained “in our shared national security interest.”
Russia and China also voiced their support for the agreement. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that any rupture would be “extremely damaging.”
EU officials have already been lobbying members of Congress not to turn their backs on the accord, which was endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council, and Mogherini, touted as a Nobel Peace Prize candidate for her work on the deal, had already delivered an angry retort to Trump on Friday.
“It is clearly not in the hands of any president of any country in the world to terminate an agreement of this sort. The president of the United States has many powers (but) not this one,” she said.
Diplomats say that European powers share some of Trump’s concerns about Iran’s activities not covered by the nuclear deal — notably its ballistic missile program and involvement in numerous Middle East conflicts, including the war in Syria.
But they say these should be dealt with in other forums and warn it would be a calamitous mistake to sacrifice the achievement of the nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, said that Tehran had a specific plan of action if the US withdrew from the nuclear pact and that Washington would regret any such decision, the Interfax news agency reported.
Larijani made the statement in St. Petersburg where he was taking part in a parliamentary forum.
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