The British foreign secretary is leaving no stone unturned in his bid to keep the Iran accord in play.

By Joe McDonough


Posted on May 7, 2018

Boris Johnson has already published an op-ed in The New York Times, he has committed to an appearance on ‘Fox and Friends’ morning news show, and will then meet a number of White House heavy-hitters in a last ditch attempt to stop Donald Trump blowing up the Iran accord.

The British foreign secretary agrees with the US president that the current agreement — signed by the US, UK, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran in 2015 — has “weaknesses”, but he stresses that it is still the best defence against Tehran becoming nuclear-armed.

In the Times, he wrote that Britain, France and Germany have been working tirelessly with the Trump administration to iron out the flaws in the pact.

“United States and United Kingdom diplomats have been working alongside their French and German counterparts to reach a joint approach toward Iran, focused on countering Tehran’s regional meddling, reducing its missile threat and ensuring that it can never build a nuclear weapon,” he revealed.

But if Trump was to pull the US out on May 12, effectively ending the agreement, Johnson says, “Only Iran would gain from abandoning the restrictions on its nuclear program.”

So, London’s top diplomat is in Washington imploring Trump to reconsider his position.

It seems he has reason to be optimistic too. Despite Trump labelling the deal “insane”, Britain’s ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, told CBS on Sunday, he has not yet fully committed to the withdrawal.

“The message we are hearing from all contacts in this administration is that although the president’s views on the deal are very clear and have been out there for months and months, and in fact for years, that a final decision hasn’t been taken,” Darroch said.

Johnson will be interviewed on Fox and Friends (one of Trump’s favourite programs), and sit down with vice president Mike Pence and national security adviser John Bolton.

While Trump used Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unveiling of Iranian top secret intelligence last week as proof the Islamic republic can’t be trusted, Johnson says they were never able to follow through on those plans because of the “handcuffs” slapped on them.

“Mr. Netanyahu recently described how Iran conducted a secret project between 1999 and 2003 to research the technology for a nuclear weapon. But that project actually underscores the importance of maintaining the restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, including the [International Atomic Energy Agency’s] ability to inspect key facilities,” he wrote.

“I believe that keeping the deal’s constraints on Iran’s nuclear program will also help counter Tehran’s aggressive regional behaviour. I am sure of one thing: every available alternative is worse. The wisest course would be to improve the handcuffs rather than break them.”

Iran threatens ‘historic regret’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned Trump that leaving the deal will cause “historic regret”.

“If America leaves the nuclear deal, this will entail historic regret for it,” he said on Sunday.

He added Iran had “a plan to counter any decision Trump may take and we will confront it”.

“America is making a mistake if it leaves the nuclear accord.”

In another speech during his visit to Razavi Khorasan province, Rouhani said, “You (US) should know that you cannot threaten this great nation because our people withstood eight years of… defence [in the war with Iraq].”

“We want to preserve our peaceful nuclear technology for electricity, medicine, agriculture and health… and we do not seek to threaten the world or the region,” he said.