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Do not ditch Iran nuclear deal, Britain tells Trump

No better alternative at this point — Johnson

By AFP - May 08,2018 - Last updated at May 08,2018

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at the State Department in Washington, US, on Monday (Reuters photo)

WASHINGTON — Boris Johnson appealed once more on Monday to Donald Trump not to scrap the Iran nuclear deal, saying that while the president has a "legitimate point" over "flaws" in the accord, the global community has no better alternative.

Speaking to US network Fox News ahead of meetings in Washington with US administration officials, the British Foreign Secretary said Trump was "right to see flaws" in the deal but "Plan B does not seem to be to me particularly well-developed at this stage."

Trump has threatened to withdraw from the agreement when it comes up for renewal on May 12, demanding US allies "fix the terrible flaws" in it or he will reimpose sanctions on Iran that were eased under the historic accord.

"The president has a legitimate point," Johnson told Fox, a favourite among conservatives. "He set a challenge for the world."

"We think you can be tougher on Iran, address the concerns of the president and not throw the baby out with the bath water, not junk a deal."

The nuclear deal was struck in 2015 among Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, then led by Barack Obama.

Under the pact, international sanctions were eased in return for verifiable limits on Iran's nuclear programme, but Iran says it is not reaping the rewards despite complying with the deal.

Johnson's comments echoed his call to preserve the deal in an op-ed piece in The New York Times.

"At this delicate juncture, it would be a mistake to walk away from the nuclear agreement and remove the restraints that it places on Iran," Johnson wrote in the piece.

He argued that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have been granted extra powers to monitor Iran's nuclear facilities, "increasing the likelihood that they would spot any attempt to build a weapon".

"Now that these handcuffs are in place, I see no possible advantage in casting them aside. Only Iran would gain from abandoning the restrictions on its nuclear programme," Johnson wrote.

He added: "I believe that keeping the deal's constraints on Iran's nuclear programme will also help counter Tehran's aggressive regional behaviour. I am sure of one thing: every available alternative is worse. The wisest course would be to improve the handcuffs rather than break them."

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