UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for a new “Trump deal” to replace the existing Iran nuclear agreement, winning kudos from the US president.
In comments made during an NBC interview in New York at the UN General Assembly, the prime minister attacked the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was agreed to by all the major powers in 2015:
“The reality is, as President Trump rightly said, it was a bad deal. It had many defects. Iran was and is behaving disruptively in the region,” Johnson claimed.
The UK prime minister went further, telling US television:
“I think there’s one guy who can do a better deal, and one guy who understands how to get a difficult partner like Iran over the line, and that is the president of the United States. So I hope that there will be a Trump deal, to be totally honest with you.”
Boris Johnson’s comments triggered an enthusiastic approval from the US president, who said:
“That's why he's a winner. That's why he's a man who’s going to be successful in the UK. Boris is a man, who…number one, he’s a friend of mine, number two, he’s very smart, very tough.”
As he insisted the existing deal was “ready to expire”, Trump added:
“I respect Boris a lot and I’m not at all surprised that he was the first one to come out and say that.”
Chorus of Voices Calling Out Iran's Culpability
On Monday leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom blamed Iran for the drone strikes on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia earlier this month, dismissing claims by Yemen's Houthi movement that it was behind the Aramco attacks.
“It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation. We support ongoing investigations to establish further details,” the leaders said.
Tehran has countered by denying all culpability, with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accusing the leaders of "parroting absurd US claims".
Boris Johnson’s interview with NBC television came a day after he joined a chorus of voices blaming Iran for the recent attack on Saudi Aramco oil facilities.
There was “a very high degree of probability” that Tehran was behind the devastating attack that shut down half of Saudi oil production and raised the risk of war, the prime minister told reporters.
The recent statement denouncing Iran's culpability in the attacks is anticipated to hinder a recent effort by French President Emmanuel Macron to defuse tensions over the nuclear deal and broker a meeting this week between US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Macron, speaking briefly to reporters after talks with Merkel and Johnson, said he remains hopeful, and plans to meet separately with Rouhani on Monday evening and Trump on Tuesday, reported the Independent.
A New Spiral in the US-Iran Standoff
A drone attack targeted Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil facilities on 14 September, leading to a partial disruption of oil production.
Although Yemen's Houthi rebels subsequently claimed responsibility, Washington and its allies were quick to blame Iran, despite officials in Tehran rejecting all accusations.
The recent developments fed the flames of the already spiraling Washington-Tehran tensions that ignited in 2018, when Trump withdrew his country from the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and reimposed crippling sanctions that have badly hurt the Iranian economy.
The deal was signed in 2015 by Iran and six world powers, including the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia, and Germany, which saw nuclear-related sanctions against Iran lifted in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear programme.
In response, Iran announced in July it would breach a limit on uranium enrichment, blaming European countries for failing to live up to their own commitments.