Russia condemns Trump’s threats to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal
Russia’s foreign minister has condemned Donald Trump’s threats to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, arguing that the United States’ reckless actions are destabilising the Middle East, Ukraine and the Korean peninsula.
Speaking at an annual press briefing, Sergei Lavrov said Russia, Europe and China had warned the United States of the “harmfulness of such a step, of its unpredictable consequences”.
“We will keep trying to make the United States acknowledge reality. And the reality is that Iran is fulfilling all its obligations” under the nuclear deal, he said.
On Friday, Mr Trump waived US sanctions on Iran for another 60 days, leaving in place the nuclear deal signed by Barack Obama. But he said it would be the last time he would waive them and said Europe and America must must “fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw”.
At the same time, he raised pressure on Iran by announcing separate sanctions against 14 Iranian individuals and companies for human rights abuses.
Mr Lavrov called these new sanctions an “attack” on Iran, a longstanding Russian ally, and said Mr Trump’s actions were “deplorable”.
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The foreign minister also argued that the collapse of the Iran deal could discourage North Korea from engaging in talks about its own nuclear weapons programme. Healso castigated military exercises held by the United States, South Korea and Japan last month.
“The US is almost openly talking about the inevitability of military action (on the Korean peninsula) even though everyone recognizes the disastrous consequences of such a path,” he said.
Russia and China weren’t invited to North Korea talks in Vancouver this week, he sniffed, calling the US-Canadian initiative “harmful”.
Meanwhile, North and South Korean officials met on Monday to discuss plans for the recently agreed participation of the North in the Pyeongchang Olympics next month.
Mr Lavrov devoted much of the two-and-a-half-hour press conference to the evils of US “exceptionalism” and its failure to “listen to the opinions of other centres of world politics”.
Although the foreign minister was photographed last spring laughing with Mr Trump and Sergei Kislyak, the ambassador at the centre of the collusion investigation, relations have only grown more strained since then.
Russia’s ban from the Pyeongchang games and the new US sanctions expected in 2018 showed the “fear of honest competition,” Mr Lavrov said.
Washington was, along with the Kiev government, prolonging the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as well as undermining the peace process in Syria, he argued.
Mr Lavrov blamed rebels for an uptick in violence outside Damascus that has killed least 85 civilians since the start of the year and claimed all Russian-Syrian military operations there were retaliatory.
Batting away the lone question from a US news outlet about whether he regretted Mr Trump’s election win, the long-serving diplomat dwelled on queries from friendlier countries.
One particularly desperate journalist even waved a flashing traffic wand light in the air, but was not called upon.