Western allies pressure Trump

WASHINGTON/TORONTO – Western allies stepped up pressure on US President Donald Trump on Monday to keep alive an international nuclear deal with Iran, with French President Emmanuel Macron due to urge him in person not to tear up the 2015 agreement.

Mr Trump has said that unless European allies fix what he has called its “terrible flaws” by May 12, he will restore US economic sanctions on Iran, which would be a severe blow to the pact. Mr Macron, who arrived in Washington on Monday for a state visit, said on Sunday there was no “Plan B” for keeping a lid on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Minutes after Mr Macron’s plane touched down, the White House said it had no announcements on the Iran deal. White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders added, “The president has been extremely clear that he thinks it’s a bad deal. That certainly has not changed.” The agreement between Iran, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany was born of longstanding concern among major powers that Iran was seeking to develop an atomic weapon and imposed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief for Tehran. Critics of the pact, including Mr Trump, have said it does not adequately contain Iran.

Mr Trump sees three defects: a failure to address Iran’s ballistic missile program; the terms under which international inspectors can visit suspect Iranian nuclear sites; and “sunset” clauses under which limits on the Iranian nuclear program start to expire after 10 years. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said both Mr Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is due to meet Mr Trump in Washington on Friday, would urge the US president to stay in the deal, which is formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “We believe it is extremely important to uphold this agreement. Were it to fail or the US to drop out, we would not have anything comparable to it and we fear that the situation would significantly deteriorate with everything that goes with it,” Mr Maas told reporters.

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