Published: Sun, March 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Signatories Agree to Maintain Iran Nuclear Deal amid Trump Threats

Signatories Agree to Maintain Iran Nuclear Deal amid Trump Threats

Iran and the United States may hold talks on 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in the Austrian capital of Vienna, the media reported.

IRNA quotes Araghchi as saying, "If in case some European countries are pursuing actions, such as new non-nuclear sanctions on Iran to appease the US president, they are making a mistake in their calculations and they will see the direct impact on JCPOA and its viability".

USA envoy Brian Hook said the allies had "very good" talks about a "supplemental" accord in Vienna on March 16 as Reuters reported that Britain, France, and Germany have proposed new European Union sanctions against Iran over its ballistic-missile program and its role in the Syrian civil war. The changes the administration is seeking include the indefinite extension of limits on Iran's uranium enrichment and other nuclear activities and an intensified inspections regime.

"In case some European countries are following steps to put non-nuclear sanctions against Iran in order to please the American president, they will be making a big mistake and they will see the direct result of that on the nuclear deal", Abbas Araqchi said, according to state media.

Trump will again have a chance to take the USA out of the deal in May, which he says he will do if significant changes aren't made.

"The president has instructed us to see if we can come to an agreement with the Europeans by May 12", said Hook.

Trump said that Tillerson's slated replacement, acting CIA Director Mike Pompeo, had "a very similar thought process", prompting speculation that the White House may leave the deal, as it has long threatened to do despite pleas from the other five signatories, which support the agreement.

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The chief of staff reportedly tried to convince the president to keep him and was disappointed at his dismissal. That followed the announcement that National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn is stepping down.

The Iran nuclear deal was in near terminal condition and on life support even before President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

"Movement towards peace on the Korean peninsula, resolving Syria, dealing with Iran, and determining directions with China and Russian Federation were all areas that... the State Department, and by extension Tillerson, were and are resisting Trump's preferences", she added. In exchange, Tehran was granted widespread relief from global trade, oil and banking sanctions. This is an European Union effort to deter the USA from exiting the nuclear deal with Iran. But other sanctions for things like human rights violations are still in place. But each time Trump faced another sanctions deadline, Tillerson met increased resistance to keeping the agreement alive.

The nuclear deal's terms did not cover ballistic missile activity. However, underscoring the importance of attracting greater investment, Rouhani's deputy foreign minister warned in February that Iran might scrap the nuclear deal if banks continue to blacklist the country and it fails to secure promised economic benefits.

It was strident in its criticism of Iran's ballistic weapons, which Tehran says are for defensive purposes, saying there were "transfers of Iranian missiles and missile technology" to Syria and allies of Tehran, such as Houthi rebels in Yemen and Lebanon's Iran-backed Shiite Hezbollah.

"Now you have the appointment of someone who has made it an article of faith that the Iran deal is a bad deal that needs to be ripped up", said Robert Malley, president of the International Crisis Group who helped broker the Iran negotiations under the Obama administration.

Trump has vowed to walk away from the 2015 agreement in mid-May unless European countries join the addressing what the president says are its key flaws.

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