WASHINGTON, DC, USA (AFP) — US President Donald Trump faced diplomatic isolation on Wednesday as world powers scrambled to save a landmark deal curbing Iran's nuclear programme that he has rejected.
Trump's decision to withdraw from the accord and reimpose sanctions on the Islamic republic overturns years of diplomacy, could worsen instability in the Middle East and threatens business in Iran worth billions of dollars.
While Tehran's regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Israel applauded Trump's decision to pull Washington out of the 2015 accord, Iran reacted furiously to the move, with lawmakers burning a US flag and chanting “Death to America”.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Iran's Hassan Rouhani agreed yesterday to work toward the continued implementation of the nuclear deal despite the US decision, which Macron called “a mistake”.
Earlier German Chancellor Angela Merkel said European signatories would “do everything” to ensure the agreement's parameters remain in place.
The pledges came as Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the government in Tehran it too should quit the nuclear deal unless Europeans offer solid guarantees that trade relations would continue.
Other signatories, including major trade partner Beijing, also promised to work to uphold the accord.
China insisted it would maintain “normal economic and trade exchanges with Tehran” and “continue to devote itself to safeguard and implement the deal.”
Slapping aside more than a decade and a half of diplomacy by Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia and past US administrations, Trump called Tuesday for a “new and lasting deal”.
He described the existing accord as an “embarrassment” to the United States that did nothing to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions.
But the UN's nuclear watchdog, which is charged with ensuring Iran abides by the terms of the deal, said yesterday that Tehran was upholding its “nuclear-related commitments”.
“Iran is subject to the world's most robust nuclear verification regime,” said International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general Yukiya Amano.
Trump said a deal with Iran would have to include not just deeper restrictions on its nuclear programme, but on its ballistic missiles and support for militant groups across the Middle East.
In response, Rouhani warned Iran could resume uranium enrichment “without limit”.
But he also said Iran would discuss its response with other parties to the deal before announcing a decision.