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Iran foreign minister scrambles to China and Russian Federation to save nuclear deal

16 May 2018

Several Irish firms began trading with Iran, the Middle East's second-largest economy, in the wake of the 2015 deal to control Tehran's nuclear ambitions, which led to the lifting of long-standing global sanctions and the resumption of formal trade ties with several European countries. The Trump administration seems to think it can get more concessions with less leverage. How?

The 2015 deal had placed unprecedented restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief. If the latter happens, Iran's nuclear progress could lead to a combined bombing campaign by USA and Israel.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington still wants to work with Europe to counter Iran's "malign behaviour" and was working hard to thrash out a more wide-ranging deal with its European partners.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Mr Trump agreed in a phone call that talks were needed to discuss how United States sanctions on Iran would affect foreign companies operating in the country.

Also from Saudi Arabia came an announcement that "Saudi Arabia supports and welcomes the steps announced by President Donald Trump regarding the U.S.'s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, and supports the announcement of the reinstatement of the economic sanctions on Iran, that had been lifted in accordance with the nuclear agreement". Absent that, Khamenei said Iran "won't stick to the nuclear agreement".

Europe's largest economies lobbied to protect their companies' investments in Iran today, seeking to keep the nuclear deal with Tehran alive after Washington pulled out and threatened to impose sanctions on European companies. The State Department's response: "We did not talk about a Plan B in our discussions because we were focused on negotiating a supplemental agreement, so we did not-we did not talk about Plan B". Iran's ambassador to the United Kingdom also tweeted about the call.

The lack of preparation for a moment the Trump administration has signaled since last October has many experts concerned.

Demonstrators rallied in Tehran following Friday prayers to protest Trump's move.

France insists that while European Union nations are willing to discuss issues including Iran's ballistic missile program and its destabilizing role in the Middle East, the nuclear deal must stand.

Another possibility is that Trump does manage to destabilize Iran's regime. "It has crucial significance not only for ensuring regional security, but also for stability in the world, and it's extraordinarily important in the regime of nuclear non-proliferation". Prime Minister Theresa May added the U.K.'s voice to the push in a call with Rouhani on Sunday.

"Do we accept that the United States is the economic gendarme of the planet?"

"For the first time, Iran has the chance to show the world they are not the rogue nation they are always presented as, that they negotiated in good faith and keep to their commitments", said Karim Emile Bitar of the Institute for worldwide and Strategic Studies in Paris.

French diplomats said they also wanted to assess Iran's intentions in sticking to the deal, but also to see how open it was to serious talks on other Western concerns. Though ineffective, it was the first time Iranian forces had directly fired on Israeli territory.

As regards the prospects of a war breaking out, Al-Oqaily believes that this is unlikely, given that the "Iranians are exhausted economically and militarily due to their involvement in Syria and so this is not in their best interest".

Iran foreign minister scrambles to China and Russian Federation to save nuclear deal