EU Reaffirms Support for Iran Nuclear Deal

A group of veteran international diplomats say a unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear pact would have far-reaching adverse consequences for the US security and its standing in the world
Federica MogheriniFederica Mogherini
The EU fully stays committed to the complete implementation by all sides of the Iranian nuclear deal, as it sees the deal as a key security interest for Europe and the region

European Union leaders on Thursday reaffirmed their full commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, hoping that the US Congress would not let it collapse despite the relentless and illogical criticism of US President Donald Trump.

Trump last week adopted a harsh new approach to Iran by refusing to certify its compliance with the nuclear deal, struck with the United States and five other powers, including Britain, France and Germany, after more than a decade of diplomacy.

"We fully stay committed to the complete implementation by all sides of the Iranian nuclear deal. We see this as a key security interest for the European Union and the region," said the bloc's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, Reuters reported.

The EU leaders' joint statement, agreed after talks in Brussels on Thursday, "reaffirms full commitment to the Iran nuclear deal".

The bloc has been stepping up efforts to save the deal, saying it was crucial to regional and global security, and it has appealed to the US Congress not to let it fall.

Trump has given the US Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran, lifted under the pact in exchange for the scaling down of its nuclear program.

The EU leaders also highlighted the need to protect their companies and investors dealing with Iran from any adverse effects should Washington reinstate the sanctions, officials said.

The bloc sees the agreement as a chief international success of recent years and fears tearing it apart would hurt its credibility and harm diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions around a nuclear standoff with North Korea.

In outlining his tougher stance, Trump said Tehran must also be held accountable for advancing its ballistic missile program and its regional political role. These issues have no bearing on the nuclear accord.

The EU, reluctant to isolate itself completely from Washington, is also stepping up criticism of Iran's ballistic missile program and its role in what the West sees as fomenting instability in the Middle East.

"We will defend the nuclear deal and stand by the nuclear deal and implement the nuclear deal. But we also don't want to be standing on a completely opposing side to the US," an EU official said.

"If they withdraw, we would be left in a rather interesting company with China and Russia. So there may be an issue of separating the nuclear deal from the ballistic program and Iran's regional role, sending signals on the latter two."

Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said on Thursday the missile program would accelerate despite US and EU pressure to suspend it.

The EU, which has expressed "concerns related to ballistic missiles and increasing tensions" in the Middle East, has said these issues should be discussed without direct links to the nuclear deal.

"They [US lawmakers] were never very fond of the nuclear deal in the first place but now the situation has changed a lot. Both many Democrats as well as some Republicans feel like they need to play a more active role on foreign policy to restrain the president," the official said.

***Ex-Diplomats Weigh In

In the latest indication of support, a group of 25 former foreign ministers said on Wednesday in a letter to congressional leaders that the agreement was in the best interests of the United States.

The signers included former US secretary of state, Madeleine K. Albright, and many of her counterparts from Europe and elsewhere.

"A unilateral withdrawal from the agreement would have far-reaching adverse consequences for the security of the United States and America's standing in the world," the letter said.

"We know from experience that the world counts on the United States to live up to its commitments. If the United States loses its credibility, the consequences for its security, and the security of its allies, would be disastrous."

In a telephone interview with the New York Times, Albright said the group of former ministers, which meets a few times a year, considered the nuclear agreement "such a good example of multilateral cooperation" that its members felt it was important to speak out.

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