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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Britain urges Trump not to dump Iran nuclear deal

Boris Johnson wrote an op-ed in The New York Times to defend the multilateral 2015 agreement

Boris Johnson, Britain's foreign secretary, wrote that it was better to keep nuclear checks on Iran than to eliminate inspections. Simon Dawson / Bloomberg Photo
Boris Johnson, Britain's foreign secretary, wrote that it was better to keep nuclear checks on Iran than to eliminate inspections. Simon Dawson / Bloomberg Photo

Britain has appealed to US President Donald Trump not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, saying that while the 2015 agreement is not perfect there is no better alternative.

The call came in an op-ed piece in The New York Times that was signed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, ahead of a meeting with officials from the US administration in Washington on Monday.

Mr Trump has threatened to withdraw from the deal when it comes up for renewal on May 12, demanding that European signatories "fix the terrible flaws" in it or he will re-impose sanctions on Iran that were eased under the historic accord.

The nuclear agreement was struck between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, then led by Barack Obama.

Under the pact, sanctions were eased in return for a commitment from Iran not to pursue a nuclear bomb, but Iran says it is not reaping the rewards despite complying with the deal.

US President Donald Trump has long been a critic of the Iran nuclear deal. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA Photo 
US President Donald Trump has long been a critic of the Iran nuclear deal. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA Photo 

"At this delicate juncture, it would be a mistake to walk away from the nuclear agreement and remove the restraints that it places on Iran," Mr Johnson wrote in the Times piece.

He argued that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have been granted extra powers to monitor Iran's nuclear facilities, "increasing the likelihood that they would spot any attempt to build a weapon".

"Now that these handcuffs are in place, I see no possible advantage in casting them aside. Only Iran would gain from abandoning the restrictions on its nuclear programme," he wrote.

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Read more:

What Trump may do on or before May 12 deadline

Why Iran is unlikely to return to the negotiating table

US stance on Iran may spur oil market volatility

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Mr Johnson added: "I believe that keeping the deal's constraints on Iran's nuclear programme will also help counter Tehran's aggressive regional behavior. I am sure of one thing: every available alternative is worse. The wisest course would be to improve the handcuffs rather than break them."