Trump and Israel vs. the World: Which Countries Support Preserving Iran Nuclear Deal?

Though U.S. defense officials say the landmark nuclear accord is in America's interest, Trump looks poised to decertify it – where does the rest of the Western world stand?

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
In this Oct. 6, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington
In this Oct. 6, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House in WashingtonCredit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

With U.S. President Donald Trump's highly anticipated speech on the fate of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran to curb its nuclear program expected this week, more and more countries are coming out in support of maintaining the deal from 2015.

Israel fought long and hard at the time to prevent world powers – which include the so-called P5+1 group of permanent members of the UN security council and the EU – from signing the deal, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress to try make his case against the nuclear agreement. However, since the deal went into effect and was ratified, it has become a fact that few including Israel seem willing to backtrack on.

>> Explained: What happens if Trump decertifies the Iran nuclear deal << 

But with Trump reportedly poised to decertify the deal – a move which falls short of nullifying the agreement, but rather sends it back to U.S. lawmakers – it's worth taking a look on where all the deal's co-signatories stand on its fate.

Israel and Trump

Since heading off to the UN's generally assembly in New York, Netanyahu and his ministers have begun to talk about replacing and repealing the Iran deal. "Fix or nix" the deal, Netanyahu said at the UN, after Trump himself took to the podium to blast the deal as an "embarassment" to the UN.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu react as he arrives to attend the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017.Credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS

>> Trump’s Iran ploy could isolate Washington, implicate Netanyahu and divide American Jews <<

Since then, reports have said, Trump has all but made up his mind on the issue and he is expected on October 15 to decertify the deal, in a step that potentially could cause the 2015 accord to unravel. Trump is also expected to designate Iran's most powerful security force, the Revolutionary Guard Corp as a terrorist organization, as he rolls out a broader U.S. strategy on Iran. 

>> As fate of Iran deal heads to Congress, both parties are gearing up for battle <<

However, some in the U.S. and even in the White House are opposed to the move: U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said last Tuesday that remaining a party to the nuclear deal is in the United States' national security interests. Mattis, who was testifying before Congress, was asked directly by Senator Angus King (I-ME) if he thought it was in the U.S. interest to remain in the deal, to which Mattis replied, "yes, I do."

Iran: Say no to Trump's 'stupid behavior'

Iran's President Hassan Rohani defended the deal two days ago, saying not even 10 Donald Trumps can roll back its benefits to his country.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani speaks with media during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, October 4, 2017.Credit: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

Addressing students at Tehran University, Rohani said: "We have achieved benefits that are irreversible. Nobody can roll them back, neither Trump, nor 10 other Trumps."

Trump is also expected to designate Iran's most powerful security force, as he rolls out a broader U.S. strategy on Iran, a move that prompted the threat of a "crushing" response from Iran

"The Americans should know that the Trump government's stupid behavior with the nuclear deal will be used by the Islamic Republic as an opportunity to move ahead with its missile, regional and conventional defense program," said Iran's Revolutionary Guard's commander Mohammad Ali Jafari, according to state media.

China: Deal 'a good example'

China said on Monday it hopes the Iran nuclear deal will stay intact, playing an important role in keeping the peace, after a senior U.S. official said President Donald Trump is expected to decertify the agreement.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the Iran nuclear deal was a good example of how to solve something peacefully through talks.

The agreement had played a positive and important role in ensuring nuclear non-proliferation and protecting peace and stability in the Middle East, she added. 

“We hope that the comprehensive Iran nuclear agreement can continue to be earnestly implemented,” Hua told a daily news briefing.

Russia: Extremely worrying

Russia, like China and most EU nations, is opposed to nixing the deal its Foreign Minister Lavrov was instrumental in sealing.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a news conference at United Nations headquarters, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)Credit: Mary Altaffer/AP

Lavrov said last Wednesday that Russia strongly disagreed with Trump's stance. “It’s extremely worrying,” he said. “We will defend this document, this consensus, which was met with relief by the entire international community and genuinely strengthened both regional and international security.”

U.K. still 'firmly committed'

British Prime Minister Theresa May stressed Monday in a phone call with Netanyahu that the U.K. was opposed to scrapping the nuclear agreement. A statement released by her office said May told Netanyahu that the U.K. "remains firmly committed to the deal and that we believe it is vitally important for regional security."

The agreement is important because it "neutralized the possibility of the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons for more than a decade," May told Netanyahu, according to the statement from Downing Street. " Prime Minister [May] said it was important that the deal is carefully monitored and properly enforced, and that both sides deliver on their commitments."

Germany's North Korea concerns

Germany is worried that Trump will say the international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program is not being adhered to and that this will turn North Korea off any accord to halt its nuclear weapons program, the foreign minister said.

German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a press conference after a meeting with the heads of German municipalities to discuss improvinCredit: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP

Sigmar Gabriel told reporters in Berlin on Monday that Germany was ready to increase pressure on Iran, with diplomatic means, but that “we do not want to see this agreement damaged.”

He added: “Our big concern is with, regard to North Korea, that it is very unlikely the North Korean dictatorship is ready to agree to an international agreement to renounce the building of nuclear weapons if the only agreement in the world that has allowed such a renunciation is at the same time called into question.”

France concerned about instability

Amid report of Trump's expected designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corp as a terrorist organization, France said that "in the context of regional instability, France is vigilant on any actions that could exacerbate the current crises," French foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne told a daily briefing, when asked if Paris backed putting the IRGC on a terrorism list. 

"With this in mind, regional states have a specific role to play and must show restraint and a sense of responsibility," she said. 

Last month, France made a new plea for the U.S. to preserve the nuclear deal and suggested its provisions expiring after a decade could be strengthened.

“It is essential to maintain it to avoid proliferation. In this period when we see the risks with North Korea, we must maintain this line,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters.

“France will try to convince President Trump of the pertinence of this choice (keeping the accord), even if work can be done to complement the accord after 2025,” he said.

EU says no

The EU and its member states are also helping efforts to save the deal with the British, French, German and European Union ambassadors to the United States slated to participate Wednesday in a meeting on Capitol Hill with Democratic senators organized by the Senate's number two Democrat, Richard Durbin, congressional aides and embassy officials told Reuters. 

The meeting is part of an ongoing effort by Democrats in Congress and other officials who support the nuclear pact to bolster support for the deal by spelling out the consequences of its collapse as Republican President Donald Trump faces an Oct. 15 deadline for certifying the agreement or placing its fate in the hands of Congress. 

A British embassy official said Ambassador Kim Darroch was in Congress on Wednesday with his French, German and EU counterparts meeting with both Democrats and Republicans "to provide information on the European position on the JCPOA," using an acronym for the nuclear agreement.