UN chief throws weight behind EU to salvage Iran nuclear deal

2018-05-17 08:44:51Xinhua Gu Liping ECNS App Download
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) meets with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Brussels, Belgium, May 16, 2018. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) meets with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Brussels, Belgium, May 16, 2018. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday threw his weight behind the European Union (EU) in salvaging the landmark Iran nuclear deal.

"We fully support the efforts the European Union is making in order to rescue the JCPOA," said Guterres at a joint press conference with European Commision President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels.

The visiting UN chief made the remarks following separate meetings with Juncker and the college of the European Commission.

Noting "for the first time in many decades the non-proliferation regimes...are put into question", Guterres lamented that "we have the cold war back".

To make matters worse, "there are not today the mechanisms that existed in the past cold war of dialogue, of contact, of control, to make sure that things would not spiral out of control by any kind of incident," Guterres said.

"It is absolutely essential to preserve two things: multilateral governance institutions and the rule of law in international relations," he proclaimed.

Guterres lavished praise on the EU for its role in upholding multilateral regime, vowing that the UN would lend support to the EU to create conditions for a world "in which peace, security, sustainable development and climate action are in the front line of its activities and our common cooperation."

Juncker, for his part, reiterated the EU's resolve to keep the Iran deal alive "because of primary importance for maintaining peace in the region, and also for peace in the whole world."

Juncker is set to jet off to Sofia, Bulgaria, for a working dinner with EU leaders on the eve of the EU-Western Balkan summit.

The summit is supposed to be centered on the topic of improving the links between the bloc and the Western Balkans, but U.S. decision to back out of the JCPOA threw a wrench into the EU's plans.

"We would like us this evening to be able to agree on a joint approach based on consensus amongst us all with regard to our relations with the United States and its relations with Iran," he said, referring to how to respond to renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran and foreign firms doing business with the Islamic Republic.

"We do have the means and resources, we will use them, let's not kid ourselves they are only limited resources, but we will make full use of all the means that are available to us," said Juncker.

In lockstep with Juncker, Guterres said: "all I can do is express my wish that these measures are indeed successful."

In the latest development, European Council President Donald Tusk sneered at U.S President Donald Trump on Wednesday, saying "with friends like that who needs enemies."

"Frankly speaking, Europe should be grateful to President Trump. Because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions. He has made us realize that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm," Tusk said in an acid-tongued press statement in Sofia.

U.S. President Trump declared on May 8 in a televised speech that the United States would withdraw from the deal, a landmark agreement signed in July 2015 by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus the European Union (EU) and Germany.

Trump claimed that the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), had failed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons or supporting terrorism in the region.

Under the deal, Iran agreed to freeze its nuclear programs in return for the lifting of most international sanctions.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Iran has so far complied with all of the conditions established under the deal.


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