UK’s Johnson calls for ‘Trump deal’ to replace Iran nuclear agreement
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UK’s Johnson calls for ‘Trump deal’ to replace Iran nuclear agreement

British PM says US president is a ‘great dealmaker, by his own account and many others,’ stresses goal must be ‘to stop the Iranians acquiring a nuclear weapon’

US President Donald Trump meets with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the United Nations General Assembly, September 24, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump meets with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the United Nations General Assembly, September 24, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday called for US President Donald Trump to put forward a new agreement, in lieu of the existing Iran nuclear deal, that would guarantee Tehran cannot acquire nuclear weapons.

“If we’re going to get rid of it let’s replace it and let’s replace it with the Trump deal,” Johnson told the BBC.

Trump pulled the US out of the international agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program in 2018, saying the deal did not do enough to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring atomic arms.

Iran has since reduced its commitments to the 2015 accord in response to reimposed US sanctions, faulting the deal’s remaining European signatories for not providing relief amid growing economic pressure.

Noting the Trump administration’s criticism of the current deal, Johnson said a new agreement was necessary to prevent Iran from developing nuclear arms.

“My point to my American friends is somehow or other we’ve got to stop the Iranians acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Johnson said.

“President Trump is a great dealmaker, by his own account and many others, let’s work together to replace the JCPOA,” he added, using the initials of the deal’s formal name.

Trump said last week “the time has come” for others to pull out of the nuclear deal, after Iran said it was no longer bound to the agreement following the US killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani on January 3.

The United Kingdom, France and Germany, who along with Russia and China remain parties to the deal, have called for Iran to return to “full compliance” with its agreements.

In the BBC interview, Johnson said he was on vacation when the strike on Soleimani in Baghdad was carried out. He said there was no reason the UK should have been told in advance because it “was not our operation.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, right, greets then British foreign secretary Boris Johnson at the start of their meeting in Tehran, Iran, December 10, 2017. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

He also addressed Iran’s acknowledgement it shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet plane hours after firing missiles at US targets in Iraq to retaliate for Soleimani’s killing, killing all 176 people on board.

“Iran made a terrible mistake, it’s good they have apologized,” Johnson said. “The most important thing now is that tensions in the region calm down.”

He indicated the UK was not weighing any penalties on Iran for downing the plane and called for an easing of regional tensions.

“I don’t want a military conflict between us and the United States and Iran. Let’s dial this thing down,” he said.

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