UK ‘making progress’ convincing Trump to uphold Iran deal

British envoy tells American media he hopes to address president’s concerns without gutting 2015 multinational accord

Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the US gives an interview on 'Face the Nation' on May 6, 2018. (screen capture: CBS)
Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the US gives an interview on 'Face the Nation' on May 6, 2018. (screen capture: CBS)

Britain’s ambassador to the US said Sunday his country believes it’s still possible to address US President Donald Trump’s concerns about the Iran nuclear deal in time to prevent him from pulling out of the agreement.

Kim Darroch said Britain has ideas for dealing with those concerns. They include Iran’s ballistic missile program and its involvement in Mideast conflicts, issues that aren’t part of the international agreement. Trump also objects to the accord’s sunset clause, which allows Iran to resume part of its nuclear program after 2025.

“We think that we can find some language, produce some action that meets the president’s concerns,” Darroch told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

The ambassador noted that the Obama-era nuclear pact is a “good deal” but “not a perfect deal.”

“The president is rightly concerned about Iran’s regional activities, which are malign and damaging to security and stability,” Darroch said. “We think we’re making progress. We haven’t got there yet. We have a few days left to see if we can find a way through.”

This file photo taken on May 26, 2017 shows (L-R) French President Emmanuel Macron, US President Donald Trump and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May attending the Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the G7 plus the European Union in Taormina, Sicily. (AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN)

Trump has set a May 12 deadline to “fix or nix” the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and has repeatedly threatened to pull out of it. The 2015 agreement imposes strict restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in return for the loosening of economic sanctions.

Britain’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has scheduled talks with US officials in Washington this week. His trip follows visits in recent weeks by the leaders of France and Germany, who also tried to convince Trump to stick with the agreement. All three European countries signed the 2015 deal, along with Russia and China.

In an op-ed Sunday for The New York Times, Johnson wrote that the agreement offered the fewest disadvantages of all the options available. “It has weaknesses, certainly, but I am convinced they can be remedied. Indeed at this moment Britain is working alongside the Trump administration and our French and German allies to ensure that they are,” he wrote.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in Tehran on February 6, 2018, (ATTA KENARE/AFP)

Iran’s president warned Trump on Sunday that leaving the nuclear deal would be a “historic regret.”

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee also advised against pulling out of the accord without a clearer idea of the consequences and urged Trump to give the Europeans time to address his concerns.

“So maybe the best thing is for the president to delay a bit more his deadline of this month and put the French and the British up to the test about whether it is possible to get this other sort of agreement,” Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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