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Dismayed European allies sought to salvage the international nuclear pact with Iran after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the landmark accord, while officials in Tehran poured scorn on the US leader.
“The deal is not dead. There’s an American withdrawal from the deal but the deal is still there,” French Foreign Minister, Jean-yves Le Drian said.
Trump announced he would reimpose US economic sanctions on Iran to undermine what he called “a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made”.
The 2015 agreement, worked out by the US, five other world powers and Iran, lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program. The pact was designed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.
Trump complained that the deal, the signature foreign policy achievement of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program, its nuclear activities beyond 2025 or its role in conflicts in Yemen and Syria.
His decision raises the risk of deepening conflicts in the Middle East, puts the United States at odds with European diplomatic and business interests, and casts uncertainty over global oil supplies.
It could also strengthen the hand of hardliners at the expense of reformers in Iran’s political scene.
“The region deserves better than further destabilisation provoked by American withdrawal. So we want to adhere to it and see to it that Iran does
that Iran behaves with restraint,” he told French radio station RTL.
The European Union said it would remain committed to the deal and would ensure sanctions on Iran remain lifted, as long as Tehran meets its commitments.
France and others were well aware that there were concerns about issues other than nuclear capability, but they too could be addressed without ditching the nuclear deal, Le Drian said.
The prospects of saving the deal depend on whether international companies are willing and able to still do business with Iran due to the U.S. sanctions.
In a harbinger of what could be in store, Trump’s new ambassador to Germany said German businesses should halt their activities in Iran immediately.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Trump’s decision was a mistake and that the US should not consider itself the world’s “economic policeman”.
European companies including carmaker PSA, plane manufacturer Airbus and Siemens said they were keeping a close watch on the situation.