The United States is looking for support from its allies to persuade Iran to re-open talks on the nuclear deal, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday, pointing to the fact that it will expire as its biggest problem.
“The most glaring flaw is the sunset provision,” Tillerson told the Fox News television channel. “We all know this is merely a kick the can down the road agreement.”
Under the deal, limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment will begin to expire in 2025.
“It’s not a stiff enough agreement, it doesn’t slow their program enough and holding them accountable is difficult under the agreement, but most importantly the agreement comes to an end, and so we can almost start the countdown clock as to when they restart their nuclear weapons capability,” he said, drawing a parallel with North Korea where an agreement on dismantling its nuclear program collapsed in 2002.
“We do need the support, I think, of our allies, the European allies and others, to make the case as well to Iran that this deal really has to be revisited,” Tillerson said.
Tillerson is slated to meet with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday for a meeting of the so-called P5+1 on the nuclear deal, chaired by the European Union.
The comments came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the world community to fix the Iran nuclear deal by removing the sunset clause or to get rid of it and reimpose tough sanctions on Tehran.
Under the nuclear deal, Iran surrendered much of its enriched uranium, dismantled a reactor and submitted nuclear sites to UN inspection, while Washington and Europe lifted some sanctions.
US President Donald Trump, in his first address to the UN General Assembly, signaled he was ready to kill the nuclear deal, dubbing it “an embarrassment to the United States.”
Trump has signaled he is ready to declare Iran in breach of its side of the 2015 accord — which he has branded the “worst deal ever” — as early as next month.
And if the White House “decertifies” Iran’s compliance, this would open the way to the US Congress reimposing sanctions and perhaps provoke Iran to itself pull out.
But the other world powers — France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia — who signed the accord continue to see it as the best way to prevent Iran from building a bomb.
On Monday, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that scrapping the “essential” agreement would launch a regional arms race between “neighboring countries.”
But he also indicated France would support finding a way to extend the agreement beyond 2025.
“It’s essential to maintain (the agreement) to prevent a spiral of proliferation that would encourage hardliners in Iran to pursue nuclear weapons,” Le Drian said.