Europe offers minor changes only to Iran nuke deal, Trump said to tell Netanyahu

US president reportedly vows he won’t show any flexibility in his demands to fix accord, but France, Germany and UK so far proposing ‘cosmetic changes’

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House on  March 5, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House on March 5, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

US President Donald Trump reportedly told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week that he would not show any flexibility in renegotiating the Iran nuclear deal with European powers.

Trump told the prime minister that he was demanding “significant changes” to the 2015 accord, but that so far, Germany, France and the United Kingdom have only offered “cosmetic changes,” a Sunday report in the Axios news website said, quoting Israeli officials.

The Trump administration has demanded the nuclear accord be amended to end its so-called sunset provisions, incorporate a ban on ballistic missile testing and increase inspection access to Iran’s military sites.

During talks with Netanyahu at the White House last Monday, unnamed Israeli officials told the website that Trump vowed to withdraw the US from the Obama-era accord unless the European countries fixed it.

Later that day, US Vice President Mike Pence told AIPAC’s annual policy conference that Trump was prepared to walk away from the agreement.

US Vice President Mike Pence address the AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) annual policy conference at the Washington Convention Center, March 5, 2018 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

“Make no mistake about it, this is their last chance. Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed in the coming months, the United States of America will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately,” Pence told the packed convention hall in Washington, DC. “The United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

The nuclear deal, reached in 2015 between Iran on one side and the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany on the other, rolled back Tehran’s nuclear enrichment program in exchange for relief from punishing sanctions.

Trump has called the deal “disastrous” and vowed to pull out of it if it is not renegotiated, positions echoed by Pence in his speech.

During his own address to AIPAC, Netanyahu vowed to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and said Israel would welcome a US exit from the agreement.

“If I have a message for you today, it is a very simple one: We must stop Iran, we will stop Iran,” he told the nearly 18,000 people gathered to hear his remarks last week.

“The president has also made clear that if the fatal flaws of the nuclear deal are not fixed, he will walk away from the deal and restore sanctions,” the prime minister said. “Israel will be right there by his side, and let me tell you, so will other countries in the region.”

On Sunday, Netanyahu warned against “nuclearizing the Middle East,” saying that the Iran nuclear deal, in its current form, could lead to a dangerous arms race.

“Many countries in the Middle East say that they too should be allowed to enrich uranium if Iran is allowed to,” he said at the opening of his weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu said he warned US officials that “buried within the Iran nuclear deal are many dangers to the world, including a specific danger of nuclearizing of the Middle East.”

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