0323 GMT March 22, 2018
“How are we going to convince countries like North Korea that international agreements provide them with security – and in so doing make them commit to future disarmament efforts – if the only international example for such an endeavor being successful, the agreement with Iran, no longer has effect?” asked Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, addressing the UN General Assembly, AP reported.
Gabriel has warned that any US move to scrap Iran’s nuclear deal would discourage other countries from going to the negotiating table to discuss their nuclear activities.
A collapse of the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), would send a “terrible signal” for other diplomatic efforts, Gabriel also said on the sidelines of a UN meeting on Thursday.
“What should motivate countries like North Korea or others to enter into negotiations in the future when the one example of such a deal is being destroyed?” he asked.
“Now we will all try to convince the Americans in the remaining weeks ... that calling the agreement into question will not increase security,” he said.
The top German diplomat further noted that Iran was complying with the nuclear agreement.
Italy's UN Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi said after a Security Council meeting that the escalating situation with North Korea should serve as a cautionary tale for not abandoning the Iran deal.
Russia's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in his address, called the Iran deal one of the “more important factors of regional and international security” today. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also reiterated support. No agreement is perfect, he said, but if the accord is discarded, the entire non-proliferation system would suffer, the Xinhua news agency reported.
The chorus of international support was countered by a succession of senior Trump aides who repeated the president’s objections to the pact in television interviews on Thursday.
In his speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump called the accord “nothing short of an embarrassment” and the “worst one-sided deal perhaps in American history.”
Iran has ruled out any renegotiation of the agreement and has said that any abandonment of the deal would lead it to immediately resume enrichment of uranium. Iran has also said it has no intention of ever acquiring nuclear weapons, but US and Israel are among the countries that do not accept those assurances.
‘Deal is working’
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday had the highest-level encounter between the US and Iran during Trump’s presidency, meeting and shaking hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The host of the meeting of parties to the agreement, EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said all sides agreed that the deal was working.
Trump is obliged to certify to Congress by Oct. 15 if Iran is complying with the deal, and officials have said he may use that occasion to either declare Iran in violation or determine that the agreement is no longer in the US national security interest.
Tillerson hinted at the latter, saying Trump is “very, very carefully considering the decision of whether we find the [nuclear deal] to continue to serve the security interests of the American people or not.”
In his General Assembly speech, German Foreign Minister Gabriel indirectly undercut Trump’s philosophy of "America first" by devoting much of his time to the value of international cooperation and multilateralism.
"National egoism is worthless as a regulatory principle for our world," he said. "This world view describes the world as an arena, a kind of battleground, in which everyone is fighting against everyone else and in which everyone has to assert their own interests. ... In this world view, the law of the strongest prevails, not the strength of the law."
He added: “We need more international cooperation and less national egoism, not the other way around.”