Boris Johnson and his EU counterparts will meet with the Iranian foreign minister on Tuesday evening in a bid to save the Iran nuclear deal following Donald Trump’s decision to take the US out of the agreement.
The Foreign Secretary, as well as his French, German, European Commission counterparts will meet with Mohammad Javad Zarif in Brussels to explore ways to shield Iran from the effects of new US sanctions threatened by Washington.
Speaking ahead of the meeting Mr Johnson urged the US to hold off from further destabilising the agreement, which the European Commission said last week Mr Trump had no power to unilaterally scrap.
The US president said he was “ashamed” of the deal, which was struck by his predecessor Barack Obama. The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which would see Iran dramatically slash its nuclear capability in exchange for a gradual end to crippling sanctions, is highly politicised in the US, and is also rejected by Israel, a close American ally in the region.
International observers, who have been given access to Iranian nuclear facilities under the plan, say their inspections show Iran has been holding up its part of the bargain.
The EU showdown with Mr Trump comes amid a backdrop of worsening trade relations with the US. The right-wing US president has said he will impose tariffs on EU and other countries’ still, with European trying to negotiate an opt-out.
This deal is not a bilateral treaty, it is a UN security council resolution, and it belongs to the entire world
Crucially, the US has not ruled out sanctioning European companies that continue to trade with Iran when it imposes new sanctions.
Speaking as he arrived in Brussels Mr Johnson said: “The UK and our European partners continue to view the nuclear deal as vital for our shared security, and remain fully committed to upholding it.
“We are working with France and Germany to explore the best way forward. We will look at potential options for supporting continued sanctions relief for Iran to ensure we meet our commitments under the deal, as well as calling on Iran to continue to abide by the restrictions the deal places upon their nuclear programme.
“Our meeting with Iranian FM Zarif in Brussels is a chance to discuss how we can continue to support sanctions relief with Iran while they maintain their nuclear agreement obligations, but also raise our worries about Iran’s wider, disruptive, behaviour in the Middle East region.
“I also call on the US to avoid any actions that could prevent the remaining parties to the agreement from meeting their commitments under the deal – including delivering sanctions relief through legitimate trade.”
Earlier this week Mr Johnson said Mr Trump would deserve a Nobel peace prize if he solve the Iranian issue and brought reconciliation to the Korean peninsula.
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Federica Mogherini, the EU’s top diplomat, said: “I believe we have a responsibility and a duty, I would say, to do all we can – and we can do a lot – to presser the nuclear deal with Iran.
“I’ve been saying for one year now, probably more, especially to our friends in the US administration, that this deal is not a bilateral treaty, it is a UN security council resolution, and it belongs to the entire world.
“The consequence of that is that no single country along can destroy the deal or undo the deal, because all the others stay in. This is what we are seeing in these days: the reaction of the international community, almost unanimously backing the full continuation of the full implementation of the deal.”