Shunning Trump, EU strongly backs Iran nuclear deal

Shunning Trump, EU strongly backs Iran nuclear deal

The European Union and Tehran are expected to show support for Iran's 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers at a foreign ministers' meeting on January 11 while the White House is deciding whether to continue backing the agreement.

With Tehran and USA allies in Europe stepping up pressure to preserve the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord, President Trump appears poised to back away from a threat to pull America out of the deal, opting instead for new, albeit more targeted, sanctions against Iranian officials and entities.

European allies have warned of a split with the USA over the nuclear agreement and say if Washington reimposes sanctions on Iran, the pact could fall apart.

The deal is "a crucial agreement that makes the world safer", British foreign secretary Boris Johnson said on Thursday (AP).

President Donald Trump is expected to continue sanctions waivers that accompanied the accord in a decision to be made later Thursday despite his refusal to certify Iran's compliance with the pact late a year ago.

Hailed by Obama as key to stopping Iran from building a nuclear bomb, the deal lifted economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear ambitions.

And there's a warning that if Trump reimposes sanctions, the pact could fall apart.

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That's right. The very complicated and important issue of a nuclear Iran, the future of the nuclear deal with the West, and the long-term security for the West and Israel, have all come down to a staring contest.

If Trump did waive the sanctions, one official said, the administration would nevertheless impose new, targeted measure on Iranian businesses and people.

Iran, which on Monday warned the world to get ready for Washington abandoning the deal, has said if the USA walks away from the agreement it is ready to give an "appropriate and heavy response".

According to two USA sources, Trump had not made a decision by Wednesday, while Johnson told the British parliament on Tuesday that London was urging "our friends in the White House not to throw it away".

"Iran is ready to increase the speed of its nuclear activities in various areas, especially enrichment, several times more than [in the] pre-JCPOA [nuclear deal] era", Behrooz Kamalvandi, the deputy chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told Iranian national TV on Wednesday.

Officials have said the majority have since been released, with only the main "instigators" facing trial. A snap-back on sanctions would cause the "dislocation of at least 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian crude oil exports, especially those going to Korea and Japan as well as to some European countries".

Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, welcomed backing for the accord, warning Tehran's commitment to the agreement was conditional on full U.S. compliance with the agreement. A third United States official said Trump was expected by some officials to renew the sanctions waivers but stressed that no final decision had been made.