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China urges salvaging of Iran nuclear deal

(Global Times)    07:24, May 10, 2018

US exit ‘deepens divide with European allies’

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang [Photo:]

China on Wednesday urged the signatories to the Iran nuclear deal to safeguard the integrity of the agreement after President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the pact, raising the risk of confrontation in the Middle East and casting a shadow on the upcoming US-North Korea nuclear negotiations.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Wednesday that China regrets the US decision to leave the deal.

"The Iran nuclear deal was a multilateral agreement reached after negotiations among six countries, the EU and Iran, and approved by UN Security Council Resolution 2231. All relevant parties should faithfully implement and safeguard the integrity and seriousness of the deal," Geng said.

Trump said in a televised address from the White House that he would re-impose US economic sanctions on Iran to undermine "a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made."

The 2015 agreement lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program. But Trump complained that the accord, the signature foreign policy achievement of his predecessor Barack Obama, did not address Iran's ballistic missile program, its nuclear activities beyond 2025 or its role in conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

Analysts said the withdrawal will increase the risk of war in the Middle East, drive a potential arms race and aggravate conflicts between Iran and Israel and Saudi Arabia.

"The Iran nuclear deal is not abolished. Only the US has decided to withdraw from a deal already approved by the UN Security Council. Its efficacy remains with or without the US. Trump's decision has only left the US isolated from the international community. Even its allies disapproved of the move," Hua Liming, a former Chinese ambassador to Iran, told the Global Times.

Trump's withdrawal tests Iran's resolve to continue fulfilling its obligations under the accord, and that China, Russia and the EU should promptly find common ground to defend the deal to inject confidence in Tehran, said Niu Xinchun, a research fellow at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

With other signatories remaining in the deal, US sanctions can only inflict limited pain on Iran, analysts said.

"The move damages US credibility in the international community. Trump's decision is politically driven to destroy Obama's legacy. He has given little consideration to what it might do to the rest of the world," Hua noted.

Empty promise

Leaders of Britain, Germany and France, which were signatories to the deal, along with China and Russia, said in a joint statement that Trump's decision was a cause for "regret and concern."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Iran would remain in the deal without Washington. Nevertheless, Trump's decision to abandon the deal could tip Iran's balance of power in favor of hardliners.

Ding Chun, director of the Center for European Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the US withdrawal further deepens the divide between the US and its European allies. The latter are already mired in a migration crisis partially triggered by conflicts in the Middle East.

Trump's decision also puts pressure on forthcoming negotiations with North Korea on its nuclear program.

"Trump's decision shows Pyongyang how empty Washington's promises can be … The message is that Pyongyang must meet all US demands, otherwise the Iran deal is what Pyongyang will end up with. This is not the right atmosphere before an important summit," said Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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