At a meeting in Brussels on Thursday Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, said the bloc – as well as Britain, Germany, and France who signed the deal independently – were united in wanting to “ensure full and continued implementation” of the programme.
The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed by President Obama in 2015, was signed by China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany, the European Union, and the United States – but Mr Trump has since suggested he could renege on it.
The US president has repeatedly referred to the JCPOA as “the worst deal ever” and accused Iran of violating it, despite assurances from international observers that the country is complying.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said no “better alternative” had been proposed to the deal, adding:
“We greatly value the nuclear deal with Iran, we think it is a considerable diplomatic accomplishment. It’s a way of stopping Iran from acquiring the nuclear weapons and as my colleagues have said Iran is in compliance with this agreement according to the International Atomic Energy Authority.
“That is very, very important for us. But it is also clearly important to build worldwide support for this deal that Iran should be able to show, as my colleagues have said, that it is a good neighbour in the region.”
Ms Mogherini said: “The deal is working, it is delivering on its main goal, which means keeping the Iranian nuclear programme in check,”
Sigmar Gabriel, the German foreign minister, contrasted the success of the approach with the deteriorating situation with regards to North Korea’s nuclear programme, without naming the East Asian country.
“We know that it’s absolutely necessary to have the signal that it’s possible, by diplomatic approaches, to prevent the development of nuclear weapons in a time where other parts of the world are discussing how to get nuclear weapons,” he told reporters in Brussels.
“It would send a very dangerous signal to the rest of the world if the only agreement which prevents the proliferation of nuclear weapons would be negative effect.”
Under the agreement, Iran has agreed to dramatically reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium and cut the number of gas centrifuges it operates to produce the nuclear ingredient, with strict limits on other nuclear technologies like heavy water. Iran has also given the IAEA regular access to its nuclear facilities to observe compliance.
In return, the world’s other countries have agreed to progressively lift sanctions against the country.
The three top European diplomats, as well as French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, had just held talks with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Brussels on Thursday.
Mr Johnson also used the discussions to raise the case of the imprisoned British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 39-year-old British dual national who was arrested and imprisoned in 2016 while on holiday in Iran to show her baby daughter Gabriella to her parents. She is serving a five-year sentence for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Iranian government, a charge she denies.
Iran has been gripped by anti-government protests in recent weeks, leading the Islamic Republic to imprison thousands of people. The protests are the biggest anti-government uprising since the Green Movement of 2009, and are motivated by a mix of opposition to the country’s theocratic government and economic concerns.
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