European leaders issue defiant support for Iran nuclear deal after Trump tells them to drop 'foolish' agreement

tcolson@businessinsider.com (Thomas Colson)
Donald Trump

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  • European leaders have issued a statement of support for the Iran nuclear deal despite US President Donald Trump calling for them to walk away from the "foolish" arrangement.
  • The leaders of the UK, France, and Germany want to salvage the 2015 accord, which is designed to limit Iran's nuclear ambitions.
  • Trump had asked UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to abandon the agreement.
  • The leaders repeated their "regret and concern" for Trump's decision to withdraw from the agreement and impose sanctions on Iran.
  • The statement came as the UK signaled plans to downgrade its defense alliance with the US.
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France, Germany, and the UK have issued a statement of continued support for maintaining the Iran nuclear deal after President Donald Trump called for US allies to walk away from the agreement.

"We, the leaders of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, share fundamental common security interests, along with our European partners," the joint statement said.

"One of them is upholding the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and ensuring that Iran never develops a nuclear weapon. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) plays a key role in this respect."

All three European signatories to the deal want to salvage the 2015 accord, which was designed to limit Iran's nuclear ambitions but has been on the brink of collapse since Trump pulled out the US and imposed sanctions on Iran.

Trump pulled the US out of the agreement in May 2018, citing Iran's support for violent proxies across the Middle East and its ballistic-missile program.

Iran has subsequently breached the terms of the agreement.

In their statement, European leaders call on Iran to "return to full compliance with its commitments under the agreement."

They also expressed "deep concern at the actions taken by Iran in violation of its commitments since July 2019," adding that "these actions must be reversed."

Tensions between Iran and the US escalated dramatically this month when Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Tehran's most influential military commander.

In response, Tehran announced plans to breach new aspects of the accord and on Sunday announced it no longer felt compelled to stick to any limit on the number of centrifuges used in the making of enriched uranium, which could be used for a nuclear weapon.

The US president subsequently said the "time has come" for other signatories to tear up the agreement, calling it "foolish" in a phone call to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week.

UK to reduce dependence on US defense alliance

Boris Johnson Trump

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The new statement highlights the strained relationship between Washington and its Western allies, who have been united in their support for the nuclear deal and have been reluctant to endorse Trump's actions in the Middle East.

In remarkably outspoken comments published Sunday, UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace criticized Trump's isolationist foreign policy, saying he would worry "if the United States withdraws from its leadership around the world."

He added that the UK was looking at reducing its dependence on the US for defense and was turning to other international allies instead.

"The assumptions of 2010 that we were always going to be part of a US coalition is really just not where we are going to be," he said.

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