The European signatories of the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday expressed regret that US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the agreement, but remained committed to preserving the 2015 accord.
“France, Germany, and the UK regret the US decision to leave the JCPOA [Iran deal]. The nuclear non-proliferation regime is at stake,” French President Emmanuel Macron posted on Twitter.
“We will work collectively on a broader framework, covering nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity, and stability in the Middle-East, notably Syria, Yemen, and Iraq,” he added.
In a Tuesday press conference, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the EU was “determined to preserve” the Obama-era pact.
Mogherini, who was one of the architects of the deal, said it was “delivering on its goals which guarantees that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons.”
She went on to say the EU was “determined to preserve” the deal, and said Brussels expects “the rest of the international community to do its part to guarantee that it is fully implemented for the sake of our own collective security.”
“We fully trust the work, competence, and autonomy of the International Atomic Energy Agency that has published 10 reports certifying that Iran has fully complied with its commitments.”
Mogherini made a direct appeal to the Iranian people and their leaders to stick with the accord after Trump said Washington was ditching what he called a “defective” agreement.
“Stay true to your commitments as we will stay true to ours and together with the rest of the international community we will preserve this nuclear deal,” Mogherini said at a hastily-arranged press conference in Rome.
She warned she was “particularly worried” by Trump’s announcement of new sanctions on Iran, saying the EU would act to defend its economic interests.
European powers Britain, France, and Germany led a campaign to persuade Trump to stick with the deal negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama, arguing that it was the most effective way of stopping Iran developing nuclear weapons.
But the massive diplomatic push ended in failure as Trump — as expected — announced the US was pulling out and reimposing sanctions that had been relaxed in return for Iran abandoning its nuclear program.
Senior British, German, French, and EU officials held last-ditch talks with Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi in Brussels just hours before Trump’s announcement, stressing that Europe was committed to the deal whatever the news from the White House.
A German foreign ministry source said it was important to keep talks going in coming days to avoid “uncontrolled escalation” after Trump’s decision.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the other signatories of the Iran nuclear deal to stick to their commitments, despite the US withdrawal.
“I call on other JCPOA participants to abide fully by their respective commitments under the JCPOA and on all other member-states to support this agreement,” Guterres said in a statement, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name of the nuclear deal.
Tehran has sent mixed signals about its potential response to a US exit, hinting it could leave a fatally undermined deal and resume military-scale uranium enrichment.
After Trump’s announcement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said there was a only “short time” to negotiate with the countries remaining in the nuclear deal, and warned that Tehran could start enriching uranium more than ever in the near future.
“I have ordered Iran’s atomic organization that whenever it is needed, we will start enriching uranium more than before,” Rouhani said in a nationally televised address.
He said Iran would start this “in the next weeks.”
Critics have warned that ending the sanction waivers would unravel the carefully constructed deal, plunge Iran’s already struggling economy into crisis, spur a Middle East arms race, and expose the biggest transatlantic rift since the Iraq War.