LONDON, Oct 11, (Agencies): Britain has urged the United States to extend the Iran nuclear deal, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying it is “vitally important for regional security.” May’s office said she and US President Donald Trump spoke late Tuesday and both sides agreed their teams would remain in contact ahead of Trump’s decision on the pact. Trump has threatened to scrap the agreement, calling it the “worst deal ever.”
He must recertify the measure by Oct 15 because of unilateral conditions set by Congress. In a rare case of the UK publicly pressuring the US, the British government said Wednesday that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had called Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to underscore British support for the deal. Johnson said the agreement — under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions — “was the culmination of 13 years of painstaking diplomacy and has increased security, both in the region and in the UK. It is these security implications that we continue to encourage the US to consider.”
The Foreign Office said Johnson also spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and will meet Ali Akhbar Salehi, Iran’s vice-president and head of its nuclear agency, in London on Wednesday. China, France, Russia, Germany, Britain and the European Union ratified the deal. Iran, meanwhile, warned of a tough response if President Donald Trump presses ahead with his threats to scuttle the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told lawmakers during a closed session of parliament that Iran “will never renegotiate” the deal brokered with the US and five other world powers, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. The nuclear agreement required Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Zarif as saying Iran will offer a “tougher response” if the US breaks the agreement. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a Cabinet meeting that Trump’s speech will make clear “which is the rebellious government, and which is the side that violates international rules.” If the US backs out of the nuclear deal, “it won’t be our failure at all, but a failure for the other side,” Rouhani said, according to state TV. He added that any effort to target the Revolutionary Guard would be a “double mistake.” The nuclear deal “is a test for all governments,” Rouhani said. “Whenever we have committed ourselves, we have stood by our commitments to the end. This is an honour for us.” Rouhani also took aim at reports that the US may declare Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organisation. “This will be a mistake. The Revolutionary Guards are not just a military unit, the Revolutionary Guards are in the hearts of the people,” he said.
He said Trump was “clearly upset” over the Guards’ military successes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. “OK, if you want to keep DAESH (the Islamic State group) in this region for 20 years and use it as a tool, then OK, it is your right to be angry with the Revolutionary Guards. Because the Revolutionary Guards, by their planning, and support for the nations of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have humiliated DAESH,” Rouhani said. Earlier this year, Rouhani sparked a row with the Guards over their extensive economic holdings, saying they were acting like a “government with a gun”. But the threats from Washington have brought a show of unity from Iran’s often fractious institutions. “We are one society. We are all Iran. There are no differences among our factions in confronting our enemies’ conspiracies,” Rouhani said. “The current US president has created a situation where Iran is more integrated than ever, more unanimous, more united.”