Iran Will Quit Nuclear Deal if USA Quits, Says Deputy Minister

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USA military commanders and intelligence officers mostly view the Iran deal, officially referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as a useful - if imperfect - check on Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

The document said Britain, France and Germany were engaged in "intensive talks with the Trump administration to "achieve a clear and lasting reaffirmation of USA support for the (nuclear) agreement beyond May 12".

Hook said U.S. President Donald Trump wants to reach a side agreement with the three European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal to address the missile program and Iran's interventions in conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Germany, the United Kingdom and France have suggested that the European Union impose new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program as well as its actions in Syria, in an effort to stop the USA from exiting the nuclear deal with Tehran, Reuters reported Friday.

The deal that was negotiated by the Obama administration and six other countries limits Iran's enrichment and stockpiling of material that could be applied to a nuclear weapons program. The European Union has said it would provide legal protections for its companies and banks, and it could coordinate these efforts with other countries, who could bar their companies from complying with extraterritorial USA sanctions on Iran as they did the 1990s.

"In order for the United States to remain in the deal, the United States and Europe must come to an agreement to address sunsets, inspections, and long range ballistic missiles", said Brian Hook, the State Department policy planning chief who led the US delegation. Doing so would buy US negotiators time to deal with elements of the agreement Trump has disparaged - such as its expiration dates on key nuclear constraints - and missile and terrorism concerns.

The steps would go beyond what a US State Department cable obtained by Reuters last month outlined as a path to satisfy Trump: simply committing to improving the nuclear deal.

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"Through this reshuffle Donald Trump wants to bring together a team of people who believe in American values", Washington-based political scientist Atef Abdel Jawad told Sputnik Arabic.

Tehran's compliance with the 2015 agreement was then repeatedly confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a United Nations nuclear watchdog.

If Trump opts to reimpose USA sanctions on Iran after May 12, European Union officials have warned that Brussels might try to block the American measures and protect European companies investing in the Iranian market. He was replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

"The North Koreans will wonder about whether one can have credible negotiations with the United States", said a former senior US official. He urged European nations to convince the USA not to leave, according to the Iranian Students' News Agency.

Iran has so far held its ground, insisting it is not going to make new concessions to save the nuclear deal.

U.S. Central Command chief General Joseph Votel told a Senate panel he shared the views of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Hook said the US goal in pushing for curbs on Tehran's involvement in regional conflicts is "to bring about a change in the behavior of the Iranian regime".

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