Bucking Trump, EU ministers to voice ‘full support’ for Iran nuke deal
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Bucking Trump, EU ministers to voice ‘full support’ for Iran nuke deal

'It is clearly not in the hands of any president of any country in the world to terminate an agreement of this sort,' EU's top diplomat says

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, center, talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, right and Belgium's Foreign Minister Didier Reynders during an EU foreign ministers meeting at the EU Council in Brussels on January 16, 2017. (AP/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, center, talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, right and Belgium's Foreign Minister Didier Reynders during an EU foreign ministers meeting at the EU Council in Brussels on January 16, 2017. (AP/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

LUXEMBOURG CITY, Luxembourg (AFP) — Europe will give fresh backing to the Iran nuclear deal on Monday after US President Donald Trump threatened to tear it up in a speech that alarmed allies across the Atlantic.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg will add their voices to a chorus of international backing for the 2015 accord that demanded that Tehran freeze its nuclear ambitions in return for the lifting of punishing sanctions.

Trump stopped short of pulling out of the deal in his much anticipated White House speech on Friday, leaving that decision to US lawmakers, but restated his belief the deal was letting Iran off the hook.

A senior EU official said foreign ministers were expected to express their “full support for continued implementation” of the deal negotiated with Iran over 12 years by the US, Britain, France, China, Germany and Russia.

The leaders of France, Britain and Germany delivered a clear rebuke to Trump in a joint statement on Friday which said the deal remained “in our shared national security interest” and urged US lawmakers to think carefully before doing anything to undermine the agreement.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, center, speaks with Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, right, and Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Juhani Soini, during a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels on November 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

UN inspectors have repeatedly certified that Iran is sticking to its technical requirements under the accord, but Trump insists that what he called the “fanatical regime” in Tehran was not living up to the “spirit” of the deal.

EU officials have been lobbying members of Congress not to turn their backs on the accord, which was endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council, and on Friday the bloc’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini also delivered an angry retort to Trump.

“To my knowledge there’s not one single country in the world that can terminate a UN Security Council resolution that has been adopted, and adopted unanimously, and implemented, and verified,” she said.

President Donald Trump speaks on Iran policy from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“It is clearly not in the hands of any president of any country in the world to terminate an agreement of this sort. The president of the United States has many powers (but) not this one.”

Diplomats say that European powers share some of Trump’s concerns about Iran’s activities not covered by the nuclear deal — notably its ballistic missile program and involvement in numerous Middle East conflicts including Syria.

A July 4, 2017 file photo, distributed by the North Korean government, shows what was said to be the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

But they say these should be dealt with in other forums and warn it would be a calamitous mistake to sacrifice the achievement of the nuclear deal.

“Renegotiation is out of the question. The accord is necessary, important and stops Iran becoming a nuclear power,” one EU diplomat said.

Ditching the deal when Iran has repeatedly been certified as keeping up its end of the bargain would send a signal to other rogue regimes such as North Korea that negotiating with the international community was a waste of time, European officials warn.

Monday’s monthly gathering of the 28 ministers will also approve fresh EU sanctions against Pyongyang over its ballistic and nuclear weapons programmes.

Myanmar will also feature, with ministers set to cut EU ties with the country’s military top brass and warn of possible future sanctions if the Rohingya crisis is not resolved soon.

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