European Union voices support for Iran nuclear deal as United States mulls withdrawal

Win McNamee-Getty Images North America—AFP

Speaking before a meeting with his counterparts from Iran, Britain and France and the European Union, Sigmar Gabriel said the United States was right to address concerns about Iran's strategy in the Middle East.

Trump is expected to decide any day now whether to continue suspending USA sanctions on Iran's oil exports as part of the deal which reduced economic pressure on the Islamic Republic in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.

After months of hearing President Donald Trump threaten to tear up the nuclear deal, Iran has escalated its threats at the U.S. and the West in the past few days.

"The Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) is fully prepared to speed up our nuclear program and we have also our instructions to go and activate the mechanism in the JCPOA to deal with this non-compliance of the deal by the USA".

USA officials and others familiar with the administration's deliberations told The Associated Press that Trump is likely to back the accord for now but that he may pair his decision with new, targeted sanctions on Iranian businesses and people.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said no one had put forward a better alternative to the nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and it was incumbent on critics to offer one.

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Last October, Mr Trump gave Congress and European partners three months to strengthen provisions in JCPOA, in order to sign a waiver that would continue to freeze United States sanctions targeting Iran's nuclear program. The U.S. State Department said Tuesday the Trump administration was expected to decide on Friday.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrives for an EU3-Iran meeting at EEAS headquarters in Brussels on Thursday Jan. 11, 2018.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, who traveled to Moscow on Wednesday to seek Russian support, criticized what he called Washington's "destructive policy", Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. Expect the White House to double down on non-nuclear sanctions and generate enough uncertainty to dampen investor confidence in Iran, hindering its economic recovery and further straining relations.

Officials from major world powers and Iran meet roughly every three to four months to assess implementation of the deal, which is monitored by the world's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"Everyone agrees it is imperative that ALL live up to their obligations under JCPOA". JCPOA is the official name for the deal.

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