Germany and France on Monday vowed to stand by the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers even if the United States pulls out, with the German Foreign Minister saying the world would be less safe without it.
U.S. President Donald Trump, a long-time critic of the deal reached between Iran and six powers in 2015 before he took office, has threatened to pull out by not extending sanctions waivers when they expire on May 12, unless European signatories of the accord fix what he calls its flaws.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it was clear that the agreement made the world securer and there was a risk of escalation were it to be cancelled.
“We don't think there is any justifiable reason to pull out of this agreement and we continue to make the case for it to our American friends,” Maas said during a joint news conference with visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
“We’ll deal with the (U.S.) decision but like Jean-Yves said, we want to adhere to this agreement,” Mr. Maas added.
Mr. Le Drian said France, Britain and Germany would keep to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran irrespective of the United States' decision later this week because it is the best way to avoid nuclear proliferation.
“We are determined to save this deal because this accord safeguards against nuclear proliferation and is the right way to stop Iran getting a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Le Drian said.
France, Germany and Britain have for weeks been campaigning to keep the deal alive and have been negotiating since January with the U.S. to find ways to convince Mr. Trump to keep to the accord.
Mr. Maas said “good proposals” had been made in recent weeks.
In an effort to keep Washington in the deal, the three EU states have been discussing how to tackle Iran's ballistic missile programme, its nuclear activities beyond 2025 — when key provisions of the deal expire — and its role in the wars in Syria and Yemen.
Iran could remain: Rouhani
Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani hinted on Monday that Iran could remain in its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers even if the United States dropped out but Tehran would fiercely resist U.S. pressure to limit its influence in West Asia.
Under the agreement with the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, Iran strictly limited uranium enrichment capacity to satisfy the powers that it could not be used to develop atomic bombs. In exchange, Iran received relief from sanctions, most of which were rescinded in January 2016.
Mr. Rouhani said the Islamic Republic had been preparing for every possible scenario, including a deal without Washington — which would still include the other signatories that remain committed to it — or no deal at all.
“We are not worried about America's cruel decisions ... We are prepared for all scenarios and no change will occur in our lives next week,” Mr. Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.
“If we can get what we want from a deal without America, then Iran will continue to remain committed to the deal. What Iran wants is our interests to be guaranteed by its non-American signatories ... In that case, getting rid of America's mischievous presence will be fine for Iran.”
“If they want to make sure that we are not after a nuclear bomb, we have said repeatedly that we are not and we will not be,” said Mr. Rouhani, who engineered the nuclear accord to ease Iran's isolation.
“But if they want to weaken Iran and limit its influence whether in the region or globally, Iran will fiercely resist.”
Tehran has made repeated threats to walk away if Mr, Trump does, but several Iranian officials told Reuters last week that as long as Tehran was not excluded from the global financial and trading system, it could consider respecting the accord.
Diplomats say Tehran would rather the deal remain intact out of concern about a revival of domestic unrest over economic hardships that mounted over the years sanctions were in place.