Iran’s foreign minister urges Europe to defy US if Trump sinks nuclear deal

  • Mohammad Javad Zarif tells Guardian ‘Europe should lead’ to keep deal intact
  • Zarif warns US abrogation of nuclear agreement would backfire on Washington

Mohammad Javad Zarif: ‘If Europe and Japan and Russia and China decided to go along with the United States, then I think that will be the end of the deal.’ Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has called on Europe to defy US sanctions if the Trump administration torpedoes the international nuclear agreement with Tehran.

Zarif warned that if Europe followed Washington’s lead, the deal would collapse and Iran would emerge with more advanced nuclear technology than before the agreement was reached in Vienna in 2015. However, he insisted that technology would not be used to make weapons, in line with Tehran’s obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Speaking to the Guardian and the Financial Times, Zarif said the only way Iran would be persuaded to continue to observe the limits on its civil nuclear programme would be if the other signatories – the UK, France Germany, Russia, China – all remained committed to its terms and defy any subsequent US sanctions.

“Europe should lead,” Zarif said in an interview in the Iranian UN ambassador’s residence in New York.

The Iranian foreign minister said he expected Trump to carry through his threat not to certify Iranian compliance in a state department report to Congress on 15 October. Congress would then have 60 days to reimpose sanctions suspended under the deal.

“I think he has made a policy of being unpredictable, and now he’s turning that into being unreliable as well,” Zarif said. “My assumption and guess is that he will not certify and then will allow Congress to take the decision.”

Trump has said he has already made his decision but has not told anyone outside his immediate circle. He refused to tell Theresa May when she asked him at a bilateral meeting at the UN last week, despite…

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