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Boris Johnson challenges Trump to come up with 'better idea' than Iran nuclear deal

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Boris Johnson and EU leaders have issued a last-minute call for Donald Trump not to bring down the Iran nuclear deal by reimposing economic sanctions. 

The Foreign Secretary challenged the US president to name a “better solution” if he wanted to scrap the agreement while other EU figures said ending the deal would defy logic. 

Mr Trump must decide whether to keep economic sanctions frozen against Iran – a corner stone of the 2015 deal – from today because of a series of rolling deadlines. 

The US president is expected to continue to waive the sanctions, as allies hope he will, but could also bring in new financial punishments targeting Iran’s military.

The mixed approach comes as Mr Trump, a fierce critic of the 2015 deal, attempts to keep his political base happy while living up to the realities of diplomacy. 

In a bid to sway Mr Trump to stick with a deal made by his predecessor Barack Obama, a handful of EU foreign ministers met in Brussels and called on him not to reapply economic sanctions. 

Mr Johnson attended a press conference with Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign affairs chief, and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Iran in a major show of support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA).

Discussing the Iran nuclear deal, Mr Johnson said: “We think it is a considerable diplomatic accomplishment. I don’t think anybody has come up with a better idea.”

In a coded rebuke of Mr Trump, Mr Johnson added: “I think it is incumbent on those who oppose the JCPOA to come up with a better solution because we haven’t seen it so far.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly found Tehran was keeping its part of the agreement, despite criticism from the Trump administration. 

In a veiled attack on Mr Trump, Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s foreign minister, said they wanted to protect the Iran deal from “every possible undermining decision” no matter from where it came.

"Were the plan to fail", he added, it would send a “very dangerous signal to the rest of the world”.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s foreign minister, said: “There is no logical reason to break this agreement. All parties must be seen to respect all the provisions of this agreement.

“It is also necessary that our US allies do the same and be seen to do the same.”

The EU has worked hard since the deal was agreed to open trade and energy links with Iran, despite concerns over the country's human rights record and interference in other countries in its region.

Mrs Mogherini said that other issues such as Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and role in increasing tensions in the region had to be dealt with separately from the nuclear deal. Mr Trump has suggested they should be dealt with together. 

“The deal is working,” said Mrs Mogherini. “It is delivering on its main goal which is keeping the Iranian nuclear programme in check”.

Mr Johnson echoed those comments, saying it was “important” the ministers had come together “as Europeans to express a common view”.

The Foreign Secretary used the opportunity of meeting Iran’s foreign minister Mohammed Zarif to raise the plight of Nazanin Ratcliffe, a dual Iranian-British citizen detained in Iran since April 2016 on charges of spying.

He also stressed that “the right to peaceful demonstration within the law is central to any truly thriving society” after protests rocked the government. 

During the protests, Mr Trump tweeted that the country’s people wanted change and "oppressive regimes cannot endure forever."

Telegraph

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