Russia ‘deeply disappointed’ at Trump’s withdrawal from Iran deal

Moscow says US rejection of accord ‘trampling on the norms of international law’; Erdogan warns it will ’cause instability and new conflicts’

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and US President Donald Trump during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Danang, Vietnam, November 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and US President Donald Trump during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Danang, Vietnam, November 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh)

Russia’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said Moscow was “deeply disappointed” by US President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, a move it called a blatant violation of international law.

In a statement, the ministry lamented the move “to unilaterally refuse to carry out commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” adding that Washington’s actions were “trampling on the norms of international law.”

Trump announced the US was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, following through on a campaign promise and defying European allies who implored him to maintain the agreement that international agencies have said Tehran is honoring.

Following the announcement, the Turkish presidency it feared Trump’s decision could open up “new conflicts.”

“The unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear deal is a decision that will cause instability and new conflicts,” said Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Twitter. “Turkey will continue to resolutely oppose all types of nuclear arms.”

Turkey and Iran are striving to develop pragmatic relations with each other, particularly over Syria which borders both countries, despite a long-standing, reciprocal distrust.

In a highly anticipated address from the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room, Trump cast the landmark agreement forged under predecessor Barack Obama as “defective” and unable to rein in Iranian behavior or halt the Islamic Republic’s quest to develop a nuclear program.

“I’m announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal,” he said while adding that his administration “will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction.”

Trump said the US would restore punitive sanctions on Tehran, after he concluded “that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.”

The European signatories of the Iran nuclear deal expressed regret over the withdrawal, but remained committed to preserving the 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.

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.

In a Tuesday press conference, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the EU was “determined to preserve” the 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.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at a press conference in Addis Ababa on January 28, 2018. (AFP/ SIMON MAINA)

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.

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.

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