UK foreign secretary in Washington ahead of Iran nuclear deal decision

UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson has urged the US President to not give up on the Iran nuclear deal, as he heads to Washington for a series of meetings regarding the issue 

UK foreign minister Boris Johnson has urged US President Donald Trump not to give up on the Iran nuclear deal,  while he is in Washington for a series of meetings with the Trump administration in an attempt to keep the agreement intact.

Trump, a fierce critic of the deal, has until 12 May to decide if he will again waive sanctions against Iran in exchange for limitations on its nuclear ambitions. In January, the last time he signed off on the pact, the president warned that it faced a “last chance”.

Trump has called for stricter measures, including curbing Iran’s access to ballistic missiles. Trump has strongly criticised the agreement, which he calls "insane".

Britain, France and Germany have been working behind the scenes for weeks in an effort to preserve the deal, which was orchestrated under the Obama administration, and includes Russia and China as signatories.

Writing in the New York Times, Johnson argued "only Iran would gain" from abandoning nuclear restrictions.

"Of all the options we have for ensuring that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon, this pact offers the fewest disadvantages," he wrote.

"It has weaknesses, certainly, but I am convinced they can be remedied.

"Indeed at this moment Britain is working alongside the Trump administration and our French and German allies to ensure that they are."

Johnson said the deal had put restrictions on Iran's nuclear programme and "now that these handcuffs are in place, I see no possible advantage in casting them aside".

On Saturday, however, the Observer revealed that aides to Trump hired an Israeli private intelligence firm to conduct a “dirty ops” campaign against key negotiators from the Obama administration in an attempt to undermine the deal.

While in Washington, Johnson will meet US Vice-President Mike Pence, National Security Adviser John Bolton and foreign policy leaders in Congress.

He will not meet President Trump, but is expected to appear on the Fox & Friends morning news, which Trump is known to watch avidly.

Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have lobbied Trump directly in recent weeks.

The UN also warned Trump not to walk away from the deal.

But Trump has threatened to withdraw unless the signatories agree to "fix the deal's disastrous flaws". The president believes the terms of the agreement are too lenient.

In a call with Theresa May on Saturday, Trump "underscored his commitment to ensure that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon".

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says the US will face "historic regret" if it pulls out.

In remarks carried live on state television, he said Iran had "a plan to counter any decision Trump may take and we will confront it".

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