European leaders say they are working to 'preserve' Iran nuclear deal

12 January 2020, 18:41

Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel
Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel. Picture: PA

The British Prime Minister has joined with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to launch a fresh appeal urging Tehran to comply with the Iran nuclear deal.

In a joint statement, the three leaders said they remained committed to the agreement, under which Iran is supposed to curb its nuclear weapons programme in return for the easing of international sanctions

This is despite the withdrawal of the United States from the deal in May.

Trump had called on the JCPOA’s three EU signatories, Britain, France and Germany, to "break away" from the deal in a speech on Wednesday in which he responded to Iranian missile strikes on US forces in Iraq.

The three leaders said there was a need "to define a long-term framework" for Iran's nuclear programme and that they stood ready to engage with Tehran in order to maintain the stability of the region.

"Despite increasingly difficult circumstances, we have worked hard to preserve the agreement" the statement said.

"It is essential that Iran return to full compliance with its commitments under the agreement.

"We have expressed our deep concern at the actions taken by Iran in violation of its commitments since July 2019. These actions must be reversed."

Donald Trump had called on the nations to leave the deal
Donald Trump had called on the nations to leave the deal. Picture: PA

The statement comes after the secretary of state for defence said the UK must reassess its military and intelligence planning since the US began pulling out of international conflicts.

His comments were referring to the US withdrawal from the Syrian conflict and Donald Trump's suggestion that Nato should take over in Iraq and the Middle East.

He said the prospect of America withdrawing from its role as an international leader keeps him "awake at night."

"I worry if the United States withdraws from its leadership around the world. That would be bad for the world and bad for us.

"We plan for the worst and hope for the best," he said.

Mr Wallace said Britain needed to rethink its assumptions that have underpinned defence planning for the past decade.'

He added that the UK should use the defence review to acquire new capabilities, making it less dependent on the US in future conflicts.

"Over the last year we've had the US pull out from Syria, the statement by Donald Trump on Iraq where he said Nato should take over and do more in the Middle East," he said.

"The assumptions of 2010 that we were always going to be part of a US coalition is really just not where we are going to be.

"We are very dependent on American air cover and American intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets.

"We need to diversify our assets."