Boris Johnson calls for new Iran nuclear deal: Middle East Eye

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for all parties to come to the table to hammer out a new nuclear deal with Iran, receiving positive feedback from US President Donald Trump on the matter. 

 

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In an interview with Sky News on Monday, Johnson said the time has come for tensions between the United States and Iran to end at the negotiating table. 

"Whatever your objections to the old nuclear deal with Iran, it's time now to move forward and do a new deal," Johnson said, as world leaders gather in New York for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). 

Trump responded quickly to the call, saying he respected the British PM "a lot", Reuters news agency reported. 

"He does want a new deal because the other deal was ready to expire - very short number of years left," Trump said, invoking the issue of the "sunset" clauses in the current accord, signed in 2015, under which some of its provisions would expire in 10 to 15 years. 

A senior Iranian official shot back on Monday, telling Reuters news agency that Iran will "never renegotiate a deal that took us years to reach".  

"Iran's leadership supports diplomacy but if Americans want to ease tension, they should lift sanctions and end pressure on Tehran," the senior official said on condition of anonymity.

Last year, Washington pulled out of the multinational agreement, which saw Tehran scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting sanctions slapped on its economy.

Since then, the Trump administration has been imposing sanctions on Iranian industries and individuals as part of the its "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran. 

The US and Britain have accused Iran of carrying out a series of attacks in the Gulf over the past months, including the sabotage of oil tankers near the coast of the United Arab Emirates in May. 

Washington has also blamed Iran for an attack on Saudi oil facilities at Abqaiq earlier this month, which temporarily disrupted the energy markets, cutting global oil production by 5 percent. 

Iran has denied it was involved in any of the attacks. But on Monday, France, Britain and Germany issued a joint statement, saying it was clear Iran was indeed responsible for the attack on the Saudi oil facilities. 

The governments also called for a return to the negotiating table.

"The time has come for Iran to accept a long term negotiation framework for its nuclear program, as well as regional security issues, which include its missile programs," the statement said. 

While European powers, namely France and Germany, have been critical of the US's game plan against Iran, the UK has played mediator between Washington and its allies on the issue. 

"How do we respond to what the Iranians plainly did? What the UK is doing is trying to bring people together and de-escalate tensions," Johnson said during Monday's interview.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday and Trump on Tuesday as he seeks to defuse tensions between Washington and Tehran, Reuters reported. 

But on Monday evening, in a press conference with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Trump said he was not interested in European mediations. 

"He's a friend of mine", Trump said of Macron, "but we're not looking for any mediators", adding that Iran knows "who to call."

Trump also said that he had no intentions of meeting with Iran's Rouhani during the UNGA meetings this week. 

While China, France, Russia, the UK and Germany remain signatories of the 2015 agreement, Iran has started breaching some of the terms of the accord, as a way to pressure its signatories to push back against the US pressure campaign. 

Iran had originally set a 6 September deadline for the remaining five signatories, promising to make further breaches if sanctions relief was not attained. 

But days before that deadline, Iran pulled back, giving the world powers two more months to de-escalate tensions. 

Iran has insisted it would be willing to negotiate a fresh deal with the United States in exchange for sanctions relief, but the US position has been unclear, with officials backtracking or making contradictory statements on the conditions it would require to consider a new deal. 

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