UK ambassador to US cabled home that Trump ditched Iran deal to spite Obama
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US 'can't articulate any day-after strategy,' wrote Darroch

UK ambassador to US cabled home that Trump ditched Iran deal to spite Obama

In second batch of leaked cables, Kim Darroch said White House was dead set on ‘diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons’

US President Donald Trump signs a Presidential Memorandum withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, on May 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump signs a Presidential Memorandum withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, on May 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

LONDON — Britain’s ambassador to Washington believed US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal because it was associated with his predecessor Barack Obama, leaked documents showed Saturday.

“The administration is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons — it was Obama’s deal,” ambassador Kim Darroch wrote in a diplomatic cable in May 2018.

The cable was included in a second batch of leaked reports published by the Mail on Sunday newspaper, the first of which caused Darroch to resign earlier this week.

In May 2018, Britain’s then-foreign minister Boris Johnson went to Washington to try to persuade Trump not to abandon the Iran deal.

Johnson was unable to meet with Trump, but held a sit-down with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

In a cable sent afterwards, Darroch indicated there were divisions in Trump’s team over the decision, and criticized the White House for a lack of long-term strategy.

“None of the three could articulate why the President was determined to withdraw, beyond his campaign promises,” he wrote. “And, even when you pressed, none had anything much to say about the day after, or a Plan B, beyond reimposition of US sanctions.”

“They can’t articulate any ‘day-after’ strategy; and contacts with State Department this morning suggest no sort of plan for reaching out to partners and allies, whether in Europe or the region,” Darroch wrote.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appear together at the State Department, Monday, May 7, 2018, in Washington. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

He reported back that Pompeo, during his talks with Johnson, “did some subtle distancing by talking throughout about ‘the President’s decision'”.

The newspaper reported that, according to Darroch, Pompeo also hinted that he had tried but failed to “sell” a revised text to Trump.

In 2015, the United States, China, Britain, France, Russia and Germany signed a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for a partial lifting of international economic sanctions.

Trump had long been critical of the deal and withdrew the United States on May 8, 2018.

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make their way to the Oval Office for a meeting at the White House on March 5, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

Shortly after, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, among the deal’s most vocal critics, boasted to Likud party activists that he had been the one to convince Trump to pull out of the accord.

“We convinced the US president [to exit the deal] and I had to stand up against the whole world and come out against this agreement,” Netanyahu said in a video aired in July 2018 by Israel’s Kan public broadcaster.

A first batch of leaked reports authored by Darroch last weekend caused major turmoil between Britain and its closest ally.

Darroch was reported to have described the White House as “inept”, prompting Trump to claim the ambassador was a “pompous fool” whom he would no longer deal with.

The ambassador resigned on Wednesday, saying it was now “impossible” to do his job.

British Ambassador Kim Darroch hosts an event at the British Embassy in Washington, October 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

The British government has launched an investigation into the leaks, while police are also looking into a potential breach of the Official Secrets Act.

London’s Metropolitan Police sparked widespread condemnation on Saturday after a warning to journalists that publishing leaked documents could be a criminal matter.

Johnson, who is now in the race to succeed May as prime minister, said that prosecuting media outlets would have a “chilling effect on public debate.”

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