British leadership is pushing President Donald Trump to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. On Tuesday night, British Prime Minister Theresa May called the President to make a last-minute plea not to walk away from the agreement.
“[The Prime Minister] reaffirmed the UK’s strong commitment to the deal alongside our European partners, saying it was vitally important for regional security,” read a statement from May’s office. “The [prime minister] stressed that it was important that the deal was carefully monitored and properly enforced.”
In response, the White House released its own counter-statement hours after the call. The readout stated that the President “underscored the need to work together to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its malign and destabilizing activities, especially its sponsorship of terrorism and its development of threatening missiles.”
This rhetorical slight-of-hand emphasizes the Oval Office’s longstanding belief that the regime’s aggression in the Middle East needs to be contained. Many speculate that the President plans to announce that the deal is not in U.S. interests, while delaying imposing sanctions in an effort to create leverage. However, European leaders fear that doing so will collapse the deal, which is said to neutralize the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon.
The British Prime Minister wasn’t the only call the White House received from London. British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson also reached out to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“The nuclear deal was a crucial agreement that neutralized Iran’s nuclear threat,” said the foreign minister. “It was the culmination of 13 years of painstaking diplomacy and has increased security, both in the region and in the U.K. It is these security implications that we continue to encourage the U.S. to consider.”
Crafted during the Obama administration, the Joint Comprehensive Plan froze Iran’s nuclear program for 15 years in exchange for sanctions relief. Britain and the United States are two of eight signatories to the Iran deal- the other actors include Iran, China, France, Russia, Germany, and the European Union.
Should the President follow through with his pledge to end the agreement, it could earn fiercer wrath from players with interests in the Middle East, at a time when the U.S. finds itself increasingly isolated on the world stage.