Jeremy Hunt warns Iran deal collapse could pose 'existential threat to mankind'

Posted On: 
15th July 2019

Jeremy Hunt has warned that the collapse of the Iranian nuclear deal could pose an "existential threat to mankind", as he heads to Brussels to try to salvage the agreement.

The Foreign Secretary will meet EU leaders to discuss saving the Iranian nuclear deal.
Credit: 
PA

Mr Hunt will meet EU foreign ministers on Monday in a bid to forge a united front on the deal, which US President Donald Trump unitalterally withdrew from in 2018.

The pact was designed to ease economic sanctions in exchange for curbing Iran's nuclear activities.

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Speaking ahead of the EU meeting, Mr Hunt said: "The Middle East is already one of the most unstable regions in the world, but if the different parties were armed with nuclear weapons it would represent an existential threat to mankind. I will do everything in my power to prevent that from happening.

"I’ll be building on the leadership shown by the UK, alongside France and Germany, as we do what it takes to maintain the nuclear deal, and to work to encourage Iran back into compliance."

The visit comes amid heightened tensions between the UK and Iran following the British seizure of an Iranian-owned oil tanker off Gibraltar.

Iran has meanwhile exceeded uranium enrichment limits set under the nuclear deal in retaliation for the US move to reimpose economic sanctions on the country.

'STRAIN OF SANCTIONS'

In a joint statement ahead of the meeting, the leaders of Britain, France and Germany stressed their "continuing commitment" to the nuclear deal drawn up by former President Barack Obama.

And they reiterated their "regret and concern" at the US push to reintroduce sanctions despite the country having "implemented its commitments" under the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"Today, we are concerned by the risk that the JCPoA further unravels under the strain of sanctions imposed by the United States and following Iran’s decision to no longer implement several of the central provisions of the agreement," they said.

"We are extremely concerned by Iran’s decision to stockpile and enrich uranium in excess of authorised limits. Moreover, our three countries are deeply troubled by the attacks we have witnessed in the Persian Gulf and beyond, and by the deterioration of the security in the region.

"We believe the time has come to act responsibly and seek a path to stop the escalation of tensions and resume dialogue. The risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause and consider the possible consequences of their actions."

The joint statement comes after a further batch of leaked cables from Britain's ex-ambassador to the US accused President Trump of killing off the Iran deal to spite former President Obama.

Sir Kim Darroch said President Trump had committed "diplomatic vandalism" for "personality" reasons, according to the Mail on Sunday.