Britain should work to save Iran nuclear deal, says former ambassador
Sir Richard Dalton says UK has little to gain from supporting US policy of maximum pressure on Tehran
A former UK ambassador to Iran has said that to secure its interests in the Middle East, Britain should work with its European partners to save the Iran nuclear deal.
Sir Richard Dalton told The National at Chatham House’s Mena Energy Conference that Britain should try to strengthen the nuclear 2015 agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as part of its new role on the international stage after Brexit.
“The JCPOA is part of Britain’s security interest,” Mr Dalton said. “The JCPOA was working and remains a crucial interest for maintaining our aims in the Middle East."
Britain and other world powers signed the deal with Iran to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions relief. President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2018.
Mr Dalton, who served as the UK ambassador to Iran between 2003 and 2006, rejected as “wrong thinking” the view in Tehran that Britain would join the US in its policy of maximum pressure against Iran.
“It’s very difficult for Britain to turn 180 degrees, which is what aligning with the US requires,” he said. “What would we have to gain?”
The agreement has been left hanging after the US decision to withdraw and worsening of relations between Tehran and Washington.
Iran has gradually backed out of limits in the deal since the White House reimposed crippling sanctions, a situation worsened by the US killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leader Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad in January this year.
Germany, Britain and France stuck to the nuclear deal and called on Iran to “reverse all measures inconsistent with the agreement and return to full compliance”.
But UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson seemed to support a possible deal negotiated by US President Donald Trump to replace the agreement.
"If we're going to get rid of it then we need a replacement," Mr Johnson said. "Let's replace it with the Trump deal."
Mr Dalton said described these remarks as “vague” and “innocuous”.
He said it was clear Mr Johnson had recognised that if Washington were to make concessions to Iran, the US would have to take credit for any deal.
Updated: January 28, 2020 12:00 AM