A day after US President Donald Trump announced he was quitting the pact, putting him on a collision course with some of the US’ closest allies, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian criticized the administration for its “isolationist, protectionist and unilateral logic.”
“This is a break with international commitment and France deeply regrets this decision,” Le Drian told French radio station RTL. “We will bring businesses together in the coming days to try and preserve them as much as possible from the US measures.”
Le Drian said representatives from France, the United Kingdom and Germany — the three key European signatories to the 2015 Iran deal — would meet with their Iranian counterparts on Monday and were committed to preserving the agreement.
In his speech Tuesday, Trump described the deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program as “defective at its core” and said “it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.” He said the agreement would not prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb and railed against the fact that it didn’t address Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for US-designated terrorist groups in the Middle East.
Macron, who had spoken with Trump on a call prior to the announcement that French sources described as “very, very disappointing” earlier in the day, said France was committed to expanding a framework with the aim of keeping the region as stable as possible.
“We will work collectively on a broader framework, covering nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity, and stability in the Middle East, notably Syria, Yemen and Iraq,” he said Tuesday.
Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May had all urged Trump to remain in the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA).
In a joint statement Tuesday, the three European leaders said they would “remain committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld” and would “ensure this remains the case including through ensuring the continuing economic benefits to the Iranian people that are linked to the agreement.”
“We must talk about Iran’s impressive ballistic missiles. Let’s talk about this with Iran, let’s put everything on the table but let’s stay in the accord, the accord is a good thing for the stability in the region and for our security,” Le Drian said Wednesday.
Anger in Tehran
President Rouhani said Iran would take a few weeks to decide how to respond to the US withdrawal, but ordered the country’s “atomic industry organization” to be prepared to “start our industrial enrichment without limitations.” He said Iran would abide by its commitments while it consults with the other signatories to the JPCOA.
On Wednesday, Iranian lawmakers burned an American flag in protest at the decision. Iran’s parliament, or Majlis, was set to vote on a motion that would call for a “proportionate and reciprocal action” against the US for leaving the JCPOA, semi-official Mehr News Agency reported.
While Trump’s decision was met with dismay in Europe, Israel and Saudi Arabia praised the US withdrawal.
“Thank you President Trump for your bold decision and your commitment to prevent Iran from ever getting nuclear weapons,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted.
Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the US and brother of the Crown Prince, wrote on Twitter that his country “fully supports” Trump’s decision and added that “we always had reservations with regards to sunset clauses, ballistic missiles program, and Iran’s support for terrorism in the region.”