Zarif calls on EU to save Iran nuclear deal

Iran’s foreign minister has said he expects US President Donald Trump will not uphold a historic nuclear agreement next month and called on Europeans to step in to protect the deal.

Javad Zarif also maintained in an interview with the Financial Times and the Guardian that if the deal collapses, Iran would no longer have to abide by its limitations — which include curbs on uranium enrichment, centrifuge numbers and the production of plutonium.

“You either live by it, or you set it aside,” Zarif said of the agreement, which he depicted as a done deal, not to be renegotiated. “You cannot be half pregnant.”

“If we decide to walk away from the deal we would be walking away with better technology.” Zarif, who insisted Iran would only use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, said the country’s options “will depend on how the rest of the international community deal with the United States”.

France, Germany and the UK — which together with Russia and China make up the deal’s signatories — have rallied to its defence after they began to realise that Trump might seek to undermine it to a breaking point.

European diplomats argue that if the deal is kept alive it would also offer evidence that Washington can keep its word as it seeks talks with North Korea over Pyongyang’s own nuclear programme.  But they say privately that the US — which acknowledges Iran is in “tactical” compliance with the deal — is set on hardening its line on Tehran.

EU officials have said they could move to legally protect European investors in Iran should the US reimpose sanctions. But they have also stepped up criticism of Tehran over its non-nuclear activities in the region. The UK in particular has discussed with Trump making the inspection regime for Iran’s nuclear programme more effective and has expressed concern about so-called sunset clauses, which are set to phase out some restrictions on Iran’s activities from 2025.

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