Dominic Raab says ministers 'looking very hard' at Iran nuclear deal after Donald Trump demands UK pull out

Posted On: 
9th January 2020

The United Kingdom is "looking very hard" at the future of the Iran nuclear deal after Donald Trump urged Boris Johnson to pull out of the agreement, Dominic Raab has said.

Dominic Raab and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Credit: 
PA

Speaking on a trip to Washington, the Foreign Secretary accused Iran of "acute" non-compliance with the pact amid heightened tensions in the Middle East.

But he insisted the UK remained "absolutely committed" to stopping Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons.

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The comments come after President Trump urged Britain to ditch the "foolish" deal - known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - struck under his predecessor Barack Obama in 2015 but abandoned by the United States in 2018.

The other parties to the deal - the UK, Germany, France, China and Russia - have all stuck by the agreement since then.

Relations between the US and Iran have sharply deteriorated in recent days following the American killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

President Trump said: "The very defective JCPOA expires shortly anyway, and gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout. Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism.

"The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China to recognise this reality. They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal, or JCPOA. And we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place."

Mr Raab, who is in the US for talks with his counterpart Mike Pompeo, made clear that Britain was now considering its future place in the deal.

"We are absolutely committed, as our American and European partners are, to avoiding Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, and we've obviously been committed to the JCPOA," he said.

"But we've reached a point where non-compliance has been so acute in the most recent steps taken by Iran, that obviously we're going to be looking very hard at what should happen next."

Urging Iran to "come back to full compliance", the Foreign Secretary said Britain would be "looking at all measures", including triggering the agreement's dispute resolution tool.

Asked if the deal could survive, Mr Raab told the BBC: "There is an opportunity to build on this deal.

"But ultimately the objective is the most important thing which is to avoid the risk of Iran seeking - let alone acquiring - a nuclear weapon."

The demand from President Trump came just hours after Boris Johnson publicly backed the agreement.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, he said: "It's our view that the JCPOA remains the best way of preventing nuclear proliferation in Iran, the best way of encouraging the Iranians not to develop a nuclear weapon and we think that after this crisis has abated that that way forward will remain.

"It is a shell that is currently being voided, but it remains a shell into which we can put substance again."