Top UK Diplomat to Help Save Iran Deal

Top UK Diplomat to Help Save Iran DealTop UK Diplomat to Help Save Iran Deal

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will travel to Washington next week in an attempt to persuade US senators not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal or impose fresh sanctions against Tehran that could undermine the accord.

While describing the deal as an “amazing triumph of diplomacy”, the top diplomat said it had not led to wider changes in Iranian policies in the Middle East, such as in its support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Houthi fighters in Yemen, the Guardian reported. Last month, US President Donald Trump threatened to terminate the 2015 deal unless congress and US allies toughen the conditions on Iran and make restrictions on its nuclear program permanent.

Speaking to the Foreign Affairs Committee of British Parliament on Thursday, Johnson claimed that Iran’s behavior was creating an incredibly dangerous situation, but he said it was vital that America did not respond by “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” by rejecting the deal outright. He said the 80 million Iranians “deserve and need to feel the benefits of both the deal and engagement”, adding that “the International Atomic Energy [Agency] has found the Iranians in compliance”. The country had a potentially extraordinary future, he said. But he added that perception “should not in any way blind us to the [alleged] disruptive behavior of Iran.”

Johnson said it might be possible to take measures to try to constrain Iran, but he did not want any measures to impact the nuclear deal so that it was “no longer viable from the Iranian point of view”. He added he was concerned that further sanctions might also damage the limited economic engagement already underway. Insisting that the US-UK channel of communications remained vital, the British foreign secretary went out of his way not to criticize Trump’s handling of issue, saying it was significant that he had only refused to recertify the agreement, handing that task to congress to make a final decision within 60 days.

“It was a very clever piece of work. He kept the core of the [Iran nuclear deal] intact,” he said. “The fundamental tradeoff on good behavior on nuclear [activities] and economic activity remains there, basically.”

He stressed that it was important that any fresh sanctions imposed on Iran went through agreed dispute resolution mechanisms and were not imposed unilaterally. Johnson acknowledged there were aspects of the deal that needed to be renegotiated, notably the sunset clause that ends the deal in eight years.


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