European allies expressed "regret" over President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and said they were committed to upholding the accord even in the U.S.'s absence.
"This agreement remains important for our shared security," said the joint statement from U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
They noted that the agreement continued to be the legal framework to resolve disputes about the Iran nuclear program and urged Iran to show restraint in response to Trump's actions. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has been abiding by the restrictions set out by the accord.
"The world is a safer place as a result," they said.
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Their reaction was as expected as Trump’s statement to bail on the deal, which fulfilled a presidential campaign pledge but also promised to alienate many U.S. allies.
Tehran had agreed to halt its quest for nuclear weapons in 2015 under President Barack Obama in exchange for a roll back of sanctions that were crippling its economy. During the 2016 campaign, Trump railed against the accord, arguing the United States had given away too much in exchange for too few concessions from Tehran. On Tuesday, he repeated his disdain for the deal, calling it “decaying and rotten.”
He also said the United States was imposing the highest level of economic sanctions on Iran.
“The United States no longer makes empty threats,” Trump said. “When I make promises, I keep them.”
Trump is withdrawing from the agreement though UN nuclear inspectors have said that Iran is in compliance. Last week, as Trump announcement neared, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel had documents showing that Iran had had a secret nuclear-weapons plan for years that it lied about and that could activate at any time.
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "deeply concerned" about Trump's decision and called on the remaining parties to abide by their commitments, according to Reuters.
The Trump administration is hoping to force Iran and the participants in the deal, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union, to negotiate a new agreement that goes further, curbing Tehran’s ballistic missile program and its funding of groups such as Hezbollah.
Macron also tweeted: “We will work collectively on a broader framework, covering nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity, and stability in the Middle-East, notably Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, a chief architect of the deal, said withdrawing from it was not in the U.S.'s interest. Trump had broken America's word, isolated the U.S. from its European allies, put Israel at risk while empowering hardliners in Iran and damaged the ability of future administration's to make international agreements, he said.
"The extent of the damage will depend on what Europe can do to hold the nuclear agreement together, and it will depend on Iran's reaction," he said.
Former President Barack Obama said in a lengthy statement that the decision to walk away was "so misguided."
"In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and priorities from one Administration to the next," he said. "But the consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers."
Meanwhile, Netanyahu thanked the U.S. president for his courageous leadership and his commitment to ensuring that Iran “never gets nuclear weapons, not today, not in a decade, not ever.”
He said Israel fully supported Trump’s bold decision to reject a “disastrous agreement.”
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said the Iranian foreign ministry would continue to work with the countries remaining in the deal and with the EU.
“I want to emphasize that people should not have any worries about the future of this country,” Rouhani said. “The people are more united than ever, and there will be peace and stability in Iran.”