France, UK warn against shredding Iran nuclear deal

Washington Examiner – Two major American allies warned President Trump not to shred the Iran nuclear agreement, notwithstanding the recent protests against the regime.

“We must commit to fully upholding the nuclear agreement with Iran,” French Ambassador to the United Nations Francois Delattre said Friday during a Security Council meeting.

That warning discourages the maximalist U.S. response to the protests that gripped the Middle Eastern country over the last week. Some Iran hawks hoped that European allies might rally around a renewal of the sanctions waived under the deal, despite their previous opposition. DeLattre’s brushback came in the context of a meeting called at the request of the Trump administration, designed to put a spotlight on the regime’s crackdown on the protestors.

“We must be wary of any attempt to exploit this crisis for personal ends,” Delattre said.

That comment came minutes after U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley demanded that world leaders support the protestors. “And let there be no doubt whatsoever, the United States stands unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves, prosperity for their family, and dignity for their nations,” Haley said. “We will not be quiet.”

The administration wants to help the protesters, White House officials have made clear to allies, but it’s not clear how forcefully the U.S. will engage in that effort. Haley denounced the regime’s censorship of the Internet and social media, and the State Department is expected to ramp up the “Virtual Embassy” used to communicate with the Iranian people. Trump’s team is also weighing the renewal of sanctions targeting the Central Bank of Iran, crippling provisions that were waived under the nuclear deal.

“If a bank or the central bank is propping up the Revolutionary Guard Corps as they’re sending the Guard Corps into the streets to put down the uprising, there’s a pretty strong case to make that the president can reimpose sanctions in some way on a variety of these banks or entities or officials and still claim to be complying with the nuclear agreement,” Richard Goldberg, an Iran sanctions expert at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday.

Russian and Chinese officials accused Haley of “abusing” the forum, arguing that the Security Council has no business addressing an internal crisis such as the Iran protests.

“If we follow your logic, then we should have had meetings in the Security Council after the events in Ferguson, Mo., or after the dispersal by force of the Occupy Wall Street movement in Manhattan,” Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vasily Nebeznya said during the meeting.

The United Kingdom’s representative defended Haley from such criticism — “No one is forcing Iran onto our agenda,” Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said — but nonetheless echoed France’s warning.

“We welcome Iran’s compliance with its nuclear commitments,” he said. “We encourage all member states to uphold their commitments so that the Iranian people see the tangible benefits of this deal.”