EU, Germany, Britain, Russia Say Iran Deal Should Be ‘Preserved’
The current agreement with Iran is working effectively to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and should not be abandoned, EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini has said after the leaders of the United States and France called for a "new" deal.
After meeting at the White House on April 24, U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron said they wanted to negotiate a new deal with Iran that would go beyond the landmark 2015 agreement with world powers and encompass broader concerns in the region.
"On what can happen in the future, we'll see in the future. But there is one deal existing. It's working. It needs to be preserved," Mogherini said as she arrived for a donor conference on Syria in Brussels on April 25.
The deal Iran signed with the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany in June 2015 imposed curbs on Iran's nuclear program -- slowing its potential path to development of a nuclear weapon -- in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Iran says it does not want nuclear arms.
Trump has given the agreement's European signatories a May 12 deadline to fix what he calls its "terrible flaws," threatening to effectively withdraw the United States from the deal by refusing to extend waivers on U.S. sanctions if they do not do so.
Macron, who is on a three-day state visit to the United States seen as a mission to salvage the nuclear deal, said after his talks with Trump that he believes it will be possible to "build something new that will cover all of our concerns."
Macron said the current nuclear agreement could be seen as one "pillar" of a broader accord that he said should include three other "pillars" -- dealing with Iran's long-term nuclear ambitions beyond the current scope of the deal, its ballistic-missile program, and containing Iran's involvement in Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon.
However, Germany, Britain, and Russia also said there could be "no alternative" to the current deal.
"We want to preserve it, and we want to contribute to the United States remaining in this agreement after May 12," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said upon arrival for the Syria conference in Brussels.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also due to hold talks with Trump in Washington later in the week.
A spokesman for the British government said the Iran nuclear deal was "a product of 13 years of tireless diplomacy and is working."
"We are working closely with our allies on how to address the range of challenges Iran poses in the Middle East, including those issues that President Macron proposed a new deal might cover," the spokesman also said.
In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on April 25, "We believe that no alternative exists so far," adding that Iran's position was of utmost importance.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani criticized the U.S. demand for a fresh agreement.
"Together with a leader of a European country [the Americans] say: 'We want to decide on an agreement reached by seven parties,'" Rohani said in a televised speech on April 25.
"What for? With what right?" Rohani said.
Rohani also railed against Trump, calling him an inexperienced "tradesman."
You don't have any background in politics. You don't have any background in law. You don't have any background on international treaties," Rohani said of the U.S. president.
"How can a tradesman, a merchant, a building constructor, a tower constructor make judgments about international affairs," he said, referring to Trump's career as a property developer.
Addressing the U.S. Congress later on April 25, Macron said that the United States, France, and their allies had a "clear" objective with Tehran.
"Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons. Not now. Not in five years. Not in 10 years. Never," he told lawmakers.
Tehran has always claimed that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. It has also warned that it will revive and step up its nuclear program if the deal collapses.
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.