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article imageEU 'carefully assessing' Trump's Iran nuclear deal statement

By AFP     Jan 16, 2018 in World

The EU said Tuesday it is "carefully assessing" Donald Trump's statement on the Iran nuclear deal after the US leader set a 120-day deadline for fixing "disastrous flaws" in the landmark 2015 accord.

The European Union has staunchly defended the deal as the best way to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions, but Trump has said Washington will abandon the deal and reimpose sanctions unless Tehran is subjected to tougher controls.

Washington is concerned the deal, thrashed out over 12 years of talks, does nothing to punish Iran's continuing ballistic missile programme, interference in conflicts around Middle East or its human rights abuses at home.

The EU's Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said the bloc was consulting with Britain, France and Germany -- signatories to the deal known as the E3 -- on how to respond.

"You will have seen that last Friday the United States extended the sanctions waivers," Hahn told the European Parliament.

"We are now, together with the E3 and the other EU member states, carefully assessing the statement and its implications."

Trump on Friday agreed to waive US nuclear-related sanctions but warned it was the "last chance" to fix the Iran deal, demanding that US lawmakers and European allies draw up a new deal to curb Iran's ballistic programme, among other issues.

The EU has insisted the nuclear deal must remain separate from discussion of other matters, but officials have been keen to stress that they challenged Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during talks in Brussels last week.

"These issues include the tensions in the Middle East, Iran’s ballistic missiles program, as well as the protests that took place in Iran in recent weeks," Hahn said.

"Let us be clear: all these issues must be addressed, and must be addressed outside the scope of the nuclear deal," he said.

"None of them would be easier to address if the JCPOA was not in place -- on the contrary," Hahn stressed, using the deal's technical name.

Iran has ruled out any change to the deal, which was signed with the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday warned Europe against compromising on the deal, saying it would be a "slippery slope in a very dangerous direction".

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