Pence says Trump to ask European allies to scrap Iran deal

Politics

Vice President Mike Pence, right, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis appear at a reception, hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Following the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, President Donald Trump will ask allies to scrap the Iran nuclear deal, Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday. The agreement has been unraveling since Trump pulled the United States from it.

“The president is going to call on our allies, in the days ahead, to join the United States to withdraw from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal and demand that Iran abandon its long history of sowing terrorist violence, abandon its nuclear ambitions and join the family of nations,” Pence said in an interview on “Fox & Friends.”

The Trump administration has been at odds with some leading NATO members, including Britain, Germany and France, over Trump’s 2018 decision to pull the U.S. from the nuclear agreement brokered by the Obama administration. Trump reinstated economic sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from the deal, which he said gave Tehran too many economic benefits without doing enough to prevent Iran from eventually developing a nuclear weapon.

Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, China and Russia have remained in the pact, which limited Iran’s uranium enrichment program in exchange for an easing of sanctions.

Iran has gradually rolled back its commitment to the deal and after its top general, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in the drone attack. Tehran announced over the weekend that it would no longer respect limits set under the nuclear deal on how many centrifuges it can use to enrich uranium.

It’s unclear whether the other nations will leave the pact. Trump said Wednesday that he would ask NATO to step up its involvement in the Middle East, but didn’t say what he would ask the alliance members to do. It was an unexpected request from a president who has criticized NATO countries for not spending more on defense and who has often had cool relations with America’s closest allies, especially over the Iran deal.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said this week that the Europeans will talk to Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog and make a coordinated decision.

“This could be the first step toward the end of this agreement, which would be a great loss — and so we will weigh things up very, very responsibly,” Maas told Deutschlandfunk radio.

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