US VP Pence urges EU to leave Iran nuclear deal, stop busting sanctions

Press TV – US Vice President Mike Pence has urged Washington’s European allies to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and accused them of trying to break US sanctions against Tehran.

Speaking Thursday during an anti-Iran summit organized by the United States in Warsaw, Pence said a scheme set up by the EU to facilitate trade with Iran was an effort to weaken US sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic.

“Sadly, some of our leading European partners have not been nearly as cooperative. In fact, they have led the effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions,” Pence said.

“It is an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU and create still more distance between Europe and the United States,” he said.

“The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and join with us as we bring the economic and diplomatic pressure,” he added.

The harsh criticism threatened to further damage US-European ties that are already badly strained over numerous issues, including the Iran focus of the Warsaw conference.

The conference in the Polish capital was attended by more than 60 nations, but major European powers such as Germany, France and Britain have refused to send their top diplomats.

The EU has repeatedly expressed support for the nuclear deal since US President Donald Trump declared the US would pull out.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has described the two-day conference on Iran and the Middle East as “dead on arrival.”

Iran’s top diplomat said not even Washington believed the event provided the 60 participating countries with a serious opportunity to exchange their views on those topics.

The US has decided to start the event even though much of its agenda remains vague due to deep divisions between allies over the Trump administration’s extreme hostility towards Iran.

Because of European reluctance to attend a conference focused only on Iran, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other American officials had sought to broaden the scope to include other Middle East topics, including the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

“No one country will dominate the discussion today, nor will any one issue dominate our talks”, Pompeo said during the opening of the conference, which was also attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.