UK examining future of Iran nuclear deal after non-compliance
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK stands by the landmark 2015 deal, but diplomats say European signatories are likely to toughen their stance as Iran withdraws from key commitments under the deal as tensions rise between Tehran and Washington.
Tehran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) alongside the US, UK, Germany, France, China, Russia and the European Union in July 2015.
The future of the nuclear deal has been in question since May 2018, when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord and adopted a policy of "maximum pressure" on Iran, slapping a slew of punishing sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
"We've obviously been committed to the JCPOA, but we've reached a point where non-compliance has been so acute in the most recent steps taken by Iran that obviously we're going to be looking very hard at what should happen next," Raab said on Wednesday according to Reuters.
In the wake of a US drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani last week, Tehran announced it would no longer stick to restrictions on uranium enrichment or the numbers or types of centrifuges it can operate under the deal.
Trump on Wednesday urged signatories to the JCPOA to withdraw from the accord, blaming the "very defective" deal.
It came after Iranian attacks on US troops in a speech made after Tehran lobbed 22 missiles at two Iraqi bases hosting US soldiers and other coalition troops.
"Iran's hositility substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed... and they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash," the US president said.
"The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China to recognise this reality. They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal, or JCPOA. And we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place," Trump urged.
Prime Minister Johnson replied during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday that the JCPOA remains "the best way of preventing nuclear proliferation in Iran".
"It is a shell that is currently being voided, but it remains a shell into which we can put substance again," he said.
Raab on Wednesday urged the Iranian government to come back to the negotiating table, saying "there is an opportunity to build on" the 2015 accord.
"But ultimately the objective is the most important thing which is to avoid the risk of Iran seeking - let alone acquiring - a nuclear weapon," he said.
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