Washington seeking ‘supplemental’ Iran deal with European powers

Abbas Araghchi, right, political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, and the secretary-general of the EU External Action Service (EEAS), Helga Schmid, attend E3/EU+3 and Iran talks at Palais Coburg in Vienna, Austria on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 17 March 2018
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Washington seeking ‘supplemental’ Iran deal with European powers

VIENNA: The US and European powers have had good discussions toward agreeing a “supplemental” accord beyond the Iran nuclear deal by May 12, a senior US official said on Friday.
President Donald Trump said in January that the 2015 deal between Iran and major powers must be “fixed” by May 12 or the US will walk away.
Senior State Department official Brian Hook said on Friday after talks in Berlin and Vienna that Trump wants to reach a “supplemental” deal with the European signatories to the agreement by then.
This would cover Iran’s ballistic missile program, its regional activities, the expiration of parts of the nuclear deal in the mid-2020s and tighter UN inspections, Hook said.
“We are taking things one week at a time, we are having very good discussions in London, Paris and Berlin,” Hook, recently ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s chief of strategy, told reporters.
“There is a lot we agree on and where we disagree we are working to bridge our differences,” Hook said.
He declined to indicate what would happen if and when such an agreement is reached, saying: “We are not under instructions from the president to go beyond seeking an agreement with our European allies.”
The 2015 accord between Iran and the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany curtailed Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.
Iran, which according to the UN atomic watchdog has been abiding by the deal since it came into force in January 2016, has ruled out any changes to the agreement.
The talks in Vienna on Friday, a regular review of the accord, involved Iran and the six other signatories.
Trump’s decision this week to replace Tillerson with Mike Pompeo as secretary of state has been widely seen as another bad omen for the agreement.
Tillerson and his erstwhile Cabinet ally Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had urged Trump to listen to the Europeans to preserve the agreement.
Pompeo, head of the Central Intelligence Agency, is seen as taking a harder line on Iran.


Berlin backs Macron’s Iran plan

In our view this agreement should be maintained, Merkel said. (AFP)
Updated 27 April 2018
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Berlin backs Macron’s Iran plan

  • Merkel will discuss Iran with Trump on a visit on Friday
  • Macron acknowledged that he does not know what Trump will decide

BERLIN, PARIS: Proposals presented by French President Emmanuel Macron on Iran’s nuclear deal are based on the existing international agreement but would add some new elements, a senior German official said on Thursday.

Speaking before Chancellor Angela Merkel heads to Washington for talks with US President Donald Trump, the official said: “The premise of Macron’s proposal is that the agreement remains in its existing form and additional elements come on top.” The official added: “In our view this agreement should be maintained.”

Trump has said he is not happy with the 2015 accord and may pull out of it. 

Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani insisted the deal cannot be changed or built on. 

The plan announced during Macron’s trip is part of European efforts to persuade Trump not to abandon the accord next month.

Merkel will discuss Iran with Trump on a visit on Friday.

The French president has meanwhile defended discussions with Trump for a new plan to curb Iranian nuclear weapons. Speaking to reporters before leaving Washington on Wednesday night, Macron said the new four-pronged agreement would be a “very important complement” to the existing 2015 accord.

Macron insisted on the importance of talking to all sides, including Iran ally Russia, and said the world should not force anything on Iran. He acknowledged that he does not know what Trump will decide.