UK, France and Germany in ‘intense’ talks with US to address Iran deal concerns 

The UK, France and Germany are locked in "intense" talks with the US in an attempt to stop the Trump administration scuppering the Iran nuclear deal.

President Donald Trump’s threat to reintroduce sanctions against Iran on May 12 threatens to disrupt his budding partnership with French leader Emmanuel Macron, who heads to Washington for a state visit next week.

The 2015 deal between Iran and the three European powers, the US, China, Russia gave Tehran relief from sanctions in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear programme.

The UK and France are holding regular talks as they try to come up with a plan in the coming days to adapt the deal to satisfy Mr Trump’s concerns.

The deal is likely to be on the agenda during Mr Macron’s visit, and a separate visit next week of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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Mr Trump has spoken warmly of his relationship with Emmanuel Macron Credit:
Reuters

White House objections include the extent of the inspection programme, the 10-year "sunset" clauses for limits on Iran’s nuclear activity and the exclusion of Iran’s ballistic missiles from the deal.

Among the possible proposals is an extension of inspections to cover military sites, laboratories and universities, and increasing sanctions on the Iranian regime over their ballistic missile programme.

An attempt to impose new sanctions on Iran earlier this week at a meeting between EU foreign ministers fell apart after Italy reportedly raised objections over the knock-on impact on Russian officials.

Iran has ruled out any renegotiation of the deal and has threatened to pull out over what it sees as an unstable economic environment created by Mr Trump’s criticisms of the agreement.

President Trump has railed against the deal, which was signed under US President Barack Obama Credit:
 Reuters

UN nuclear inspectors have repeatedly verified Iranian compliance with the deal. Robert Wood, US disarmament ambassador, on Thursday said Washington hoped to reach an agreement with the three European powers, and were holding intense discussions.

“These issues have to be dealt with. We are hopeful that an agreement can be reached that the president can feel comfortable with,” Mr Wood told reporters in Geneva.

President Trump is understood to have not yet made a decision over whether to maintain the deal.

Europe’s concerns have been further raised since the appointment last month of John Bolton, an ultra-hawk who has been vocal about his opposition to the Iran deal, as his national security adviser. Mr Bolton has previously advocated regime change via military intervention in Iran.

In a joint statement published on Thursday by five newspapers in Europe and the US, more than 300 parliamentarians from France, Germany and the UK urged Congress not to let Mr Trump rip up the deal.

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