UN Chief Urges US to Stick to Nuclear Deal

The UN chief encouraged the United States to consider the broader implications for the region before taking any further steps on the Iran nuclear deal
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio GuterresUnited Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

The UN chief called on the United States to remain committed to its obligations under the July 2015 nuclear deal.

"I encourage the United States to maintain its commitments to the plan and to consider the broader implications for the region before taking any further steps," United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a recent report, obtained by AP, on the implementation of a UN resolution that endorsed the nuclear agreement.

"Similarly, I encourage the Islamic Republic of Iran to carefully consider the concerns raised by other participants in the plan," he said in the report, hailing the international agreement as "the best way" to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and denies pursuing a nuclear weapons program. 

This has been confirmed by the UN nuclear watchdog's regular inspections. The deal was negotiated under former US president, Barack Obama, to offer sanctions relief in exchange for rolling back Tehran's nuclear development.

But the pact faces frequent criticism from US President Donald Trump who has called it a bad deal and seized on a provision in the UN Security Council resolution that calls on Iran to refrain from any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Tehran denies having undertaken any such activity and insists its missile program is purely defensive and conventional.

In October, Trump stopped certifying Iran's compliance with the nuclear agreement, triggering a 60-day deadline for the US Congress to decide whether to put anti-Iran sanctions back in place.

But congress let the Tuesday deadline pass without action. By doing that, it passed the ball back to Trump who must decide in mid-January if he wants to continue to waive sanctions on Iran.

In his statement to announce the decertification decision, Trump asked congress and Washington's European allies to forge a way to fix what he calls "the many flaws" of the deal or, he said, he would terminate it.

He claims that the deal's terms are not restrictive enough and has raised a need to revisit them to accommodate non-nuclear curbs targeting Tehran's missile and regional activities.

His refusal to extend sanction waivers would, in effect, spell the end of the nuclear pact.

  Next Milestone 

Speaking to reporters in a press conference on Wednesday, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said no major decision on the landmark agreement would come from the Trump administration before the January deadline.

"I believe the next deadline comes up in January, so I don't think that we would do anything prior to the deadline," she said, according to a transcript of her remarks carried by the website of the State Department.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson assured on Monday that Washington would stick to the multi-party accord for now.

"We have concerns about whether that agreement's going to deliver on its objective but for the time being, we're in agreement," Tillerson was quoted as saying by Daily News.

European signatories, namely France, Britain and Germany, have opposed Trump's bellicose stance, stressing that any negotiations to address the Islamic Republic's missile dispute should be kept separate from the nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Iran has said it will abide by the accord as long as the other signatories respect it, but will "shred" the deal if Washington pulls out.

  Explicit Warning 

Elsewhere on Wednesday, at the end of a regular meeting of JCPOA's Joint Commission in Vienna, Iran's deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs said the American side received an "explicit" warning not to undermine the historic agreement. 

"This time the Joint Commission addressed the issue of US violations much more explicitly than the past and it was warned quite directly and clearly by all members to implement and pursue the JCPOA in an appropriate environment," Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Yet the US mission "reaffirmed their commitment to the action plan", the diplomat said, adding that the commission ruled out a renegotiation of the deal demanded by Trump.

"The Americans should know that, as it was reiterated by the [panel] members in the meeting, there is no possibility of reopening the JCPOA," he stressed. 

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