Washington wants to keep Iran nuclear deal, just make it more ‘enduring,’ US official insists

Washington is not planning to renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal, but simply wants to expand its scope, a top US official has said. Tehran has blasted US efforts to alter the accord, warning that it’s “either all or nothing.”

The uncertain future of the 2015 nuclear deal has made headlines this week, as French President Emmanuel Macron lobbied US President Donald Trump not to abandon the agreement during his visit to Washington.

Asked whether the French president’s efforts had been successful, Assistant Secretary for International Security Christopher Ford told Reuters: “I hope the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; colloquially known as the ‘Iran nuclear deal’] has been saved in the context of the challenge that President Trump set for us, of trying to remain within the deal but in the context of moving forward with our partners on an approach that stands a pretty good chance of turning what was in effect a temporary postponement … into a more enduring answer.”

READ MORE: ‘Building constructor’ Trump lacks qualifications to judge nuclear deal, Iran’s president says

Ford’s comments come just a day after Macron said that the deal should be kept but expanded upon in order to guarantee that Tehran will not have a nuclear program “in the long run.”

It’s not clear whether Macron was persuasive, however. On the same day, Trump called the nuclear deal “insane” and said it should have never been agreed upon in the first place.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned on Monday that any attempts to alter the deal would likely open a “Pandora’s box” that would tarnish Washington’s credibility in future international negotiations.

“President Macron is correct in saying there’s no ‘Plan B’ on JCPOA,” Zarif tweeted on Monday. “It’s either all or nothing. European leaders should encourage President Trump not just to stay in the nuclear deal, but more importantly to begin implementing his part of the bargain in good faith.”

The deal is up for review on May 12, with Trump having repeatedly threatened to scrap it if Tehran does not make concessions regarding its ballistic missile program – which was never part of the original agreement. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has so far been in full compliance with the deal.

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