Monday 20 August 2018

Macron to push US on Iran deal, says there's no 'Plan B'

US president Donald Trump meets French president Emmanuel Macron in New York last September. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
US president Donald Trump meets French president Emmanuel Macron in New York last September. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Rob Crilly in New York

Emmanuel Macron will meet Donald Trump today carrying a message that the United States must remain committed to a flawed nuclear deal with Iran because there is no "Plan B".

Emmanuel Macron will meet Donald Trump today carrying a message that the United States must remain committed to a flawed nuclear deal with Iran because there is no "Plan B".

In an interview on the eve of his trip to Washington as the first foreign leader to be afforded a full state visit by the American president, his French counterpart discussed his reputation as the "Trump whisperer" and his hopes for averting a trade war.

He also insisted that the US was committed to rebuilding Syria, warning that Mr Trump's threat to withdraw could leave the door open to Iran.

Iran and the issue of alliance-building are expected to dominate his meetings with Mr Trump who is known for his unilateralist instincts.

Officials say they will discuss Iran tomorrow ahead of a May 12 deadline for Mr Trump to decide whether to reimpose sanctions and scuttle the Iran deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Mr Macron said the deal was not perfect but he would implore Mr Trump not to abandon it for fear of turning Iran into another North Korea.

"What is Plan B? I don't have any Plan B for nuclear against Iran," he said, but added he agreed with Mr Trump that more must be done to rein in Tehran's development of ballistic missiles and its meddling across the Middle East.

"My point is to say don't leave now, the JCPOA, as long as you don't have a better option for nuclear, and let's complete it with ballistic missile and regional containment," he said.

The 2015 deal between Iran, the US, the UK and four other world powers unpicked Tehran's nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.

Mr Trump has repeatedly called it one of the worst deals ever and it has grated with him to have had to periodically endorse it.

At the weekend, the Iranian foreign minister threatened "drastic action" if the US withdrew. "America never should have feared Iran producing a nuclear bomb, but we will pursue vigorously our nuclear enrichment," he said in New York where he is attending the United Nations general assembly.

Mr Macron has emerged as a leading ally of Mr Trump at a time when many world leaders have kept their distance.

"It's too complicated if you make war against everyone," he said. "You make trade war against China, trade war against Europe, war in Syria, war against Iran. Come on. It doesn't work. You need allies. We are the ally."

He also issued a stark warning of more war and instability if Mr Trump made good on recent promises to pull out of Syria as soon as possible.

"If we leave... we will leave the floor to the Iranian regime, Bashar al-Assad and these guys, and they will prepare the new war," he said. "They will fuel the new terrorists."

According to 'Le Monde', Elysee sources said Mr Macron maintains that "the signs are not encouraging" about the chances of convincing Mr Trump to change tack on Iran. Sources acknowledged that they "don't expect a diplomatic break-through" during the visit.

Irish Independent

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