Britain’s Jeremy Hunt in Belgium to save Iran nuclear deal

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Monday the Western nuclear agreement with Iran “isn’t dead yet,” and that he remains “totally committed” to preventing a nuclear Middle East.

A view of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran, south of Tehran. File Photo by Maryam Rahmanianon

Iran, Hunt said, is already in one of the most unstable regions in the world — and adding nuclear weapons would represent an existential threat to mankind.”

Hunt traveled to Belgium Monday to meet with other signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the deal signed in 2015 by Iran, the United States, Britain, China, Russia and France. Iran has recently begun to violate terms of the deal by increasing uranium enrichment.

“If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, then other countries in the region will acquire nuclear weapons,” Hunt said. “It becomes a very, very toxic and dangerous situation.”

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said Monday the other parties to the JCPOA must honor their obligations.

“Iran gave … much more than what it received,” AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said. “The other side … forgot their obligations.

“What Iran is doing in terms of nuclear measures is aimed at reminding the signatories their obligations.”

Kamalvandi vowed Iran will continue to reduce commitments to the deal if nothing more is done.

“If the European signatories and the U.S. do not stick to their commitments, we will strike a balance in the deal by reducing our own commitments and roll back the situation to what it was four years ago,” he added.

The United States under President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact, but its other parties have signaled a desire to keep it in force. The Trump administration has imposed new sanctions against Tehran since the withdrawal and taken other steps to isolate the nation.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday any new negotiations with the United States must begin with the removal of U.S. sanctions. He said the U.S. government must “abandon bullying” and “return to logic and wisdom.”

Iran’s decision this month to surpass the uranium stockpile limit set by the JCPOA followed an escalation of tensions between Tehran and Washington, which included a drone shoot down and attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

London’s chief diplomat said this is a “rare” occasion in which the United States and Britain disagree, but they’re working “very closely in the pursuit of peace.”

“The thing we agree with the Americans on is the long-term solution to the tensions in the Middle East — an Iran which ceases the destabilizing activity that is happening in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen — and that is the root cause of the problems,” Hunt said.

In a joint statement before Hunt’s trip, Britain, France and Germany said they were “deeply troubled” by recent events.

“We believe the time has come to act responsibly and seek a path to stop the escalation of tensions and resume dialogue,” the countries said. “The risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause and consider the possible consequences of their actions.”

Iran maintains that it’s nuclear program is for scientific and energy-generation purposes only.

British Royal Marines seized an oil tanker of Gibraltar earlier this month believing it was transporting Iranian crude oil bound for Syria, a violation of British sanctions. Tehran threatened to answer by seizing a British ship.

ByNicholas Sakelaris