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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Iran to withdraw from nuclear deal if US pulls out

Antonio Guterres urged the US leader not to walk away from the agreement

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres arrives at 10 Downing Street for a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London, Britain, 02 May 2018. Andy Rain / EPA
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres arrives at 10 Downing Street for a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London, Britain, 02 May 2018. Andy Rain / EPA

Iran will withdraw from the nuclear deal signed with world powers in 2015 if the US walks away, according to senior Iranian officials, as the United Nations warned US President Donald Trump he risked war if he nixed the agreement.

Ali Akbar Velayati, senior foreign policy adviser, said on Thursday that while Iran is committed to the nuclear deal, it will withdraw if any changes are proposed or if Washington rejects.

Velayati said Iran accepts the nuclear deal as it has been prepared but will not negotiate any changes, according to Iranian state news agency Mehr.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

"Iran will not renegotiate what was agreed years ago and has been implemented...also we will reject any ratification of it", Zarif said in a message posted on YouTube.

He said the United States had "consistently violated the nuclear deal, particularly by bullying others to preventing businesses to return to Iran".

President Donald Trump said he will not make a clear decision until May 12, but has since all but made his refusal of the deal official.

Mr Trump already ignored the assessment of the IAEA and even that of his top officials that Iran was in compliance with the agreement.

The stance on the nuclear deal seems to be unanimous across Iran. Their ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad, told CNN on Wednesday failure for US compliance "means that there is no deal left."

"The consequence would be that Iran would in fact be ready to go back to the previous situation," Mr Baeidinejad said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.

Benjamin Netanyahu this week, also claimed Iran has been developing a "secret" nuclear weapons programme. If true, it would be in breach of the 2015 deal agreed with world powers.

During the press conference, he paraded in front of a huge LED screen, showing what he claimed were a half-ton of documents proving that Iran breached the deal.

Iran called the claims a "ridiculous propaganda" stunt, and the latest in the "fruitless efforts of a bankrupt and scandalous liar".

This all comes less than two weeks before President Donald Trump decides whether the US plans to stay in Iran nuclear deal or not.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned of “dangerous times” as US President Donald Trump considers whether to remain in or leave the international deal that seeks to rein in Iran’s nuclear weapons programme.

Mr Guterres called on the US leader not to withdraw from the deal, saying that it risked a real possibility of war if the agreement was not maintained.

"We should not scrap it unless we have a good alternative", he told the BBC. "We face dangerous times".

"I understand the concerns of some countries in relation to the Iranian influence in other countries of the region. So I think we should separate things".

There is a chance Trump might choose to keep the United States in the international pact under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief, in part because of "alliance maintenance" with France and to save face for French President Emmanuel Macron, who met Trump last week and urged him to stay in, the source said.

A decision by Trump to end US sanctions relief would all but sink the agreement and could trigger a backlash by Iran, which could resume its nuclear arms programme or "punish" US allies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, diplomats said.

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Technically, Trump must decide by May 12 whether to renew "waivers" suspending some of the U.S. sanctions on Iran. One of the White House officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said it was possible Trump will end up with a decision that "is not a full pullout" but was unable to describe what that might look like.

The decision will be made after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a bombastic presentation on Monday, alleging in front of a large LED screen that Iran had been hiding a “secret” nuclear weapons programme.

But some, including US allies Britain, France and Germany, said the information he had delivered was already known to nuclear weapons inspectors and had no bearing on the nuclear agreement signed between Tehran and world powers in July 2015.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who travelled to Saudi Arabia and Israel on Sunday to meet with King Salman and Netanyahu, said that the Israeli intelligence coup had revealed that the nuclear agreement was “built on lies”.

Iran denies seek to build a nuclear weapon, or ever breaching the 2015 agreement. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called into question the legitimacy of the US and Israel making moves to have the deal scrapped after it gained the consensus of five world powers in 2015 in what was widely regarded at the time as a significant diplomatic victory in the international community.