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China and Russia join US allies in urging Trump to 'preserve' Iran nuclear deal

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) attends a meeting with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (R) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 30, 2017
Lintao Zhang (POOL/AFP/File)
The two heavyweights joined European signatories in last minute pleas to the US President

China on Friday called on the United States to maintain its commitment to the Iranian nuclear deal, joining other signatories to the accord, which President Donald Trump is expected to declare no longer in America's interest.

"We believe this deal is important to ensuring the international nuclear nonproliferation regime and regional peace and stability. We hope all parties can continue to preserve and implement this deal," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a regular press briefing.

China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, discussed the Iranian nuclear issue with US counterpart Rex Tillerson in a phone call on Thursday to prepare for Trump's November visit to Beijing, Hua said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May also defended the accord in a call this week with Trump -- which followed a call to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the same vein -- while her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has also made similar representations to the US.

Not long after China issued their plea, a spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin also issued a grave warning to Trump not to junk the accord. 

"This could seriously aggravate the situation around the Iranian nuclear dossier," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. 

"Such actions will unequivocally damage the atmosphere of predictability, security, stability and non-proliferation in the entire world."

The remarks followed a call on Thursday between Secretary of State Tillerson and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov said that Iran is keeping its end of the bargain and that the accord should remain in place.

Mladen ANTONOV (AFP/File)

The two top diplomats "discussed the situation around the JCPOA on Iran’s nuclear program approved by the UN Security Council in 2015," a statement from Russia's foreign ministry reported by TASS said.

"Lavrov drew attention to the fact that Tehran abides by all its commitments on the JCPOA and stressed that the other co-authors must adhere to the document."

Late last week German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel expressed dismay at what he predicted would be Trump's nixing of the deal, asking "What good will come of us treating Iran as though it is developing nuclear weapons after all? ... Nothing."

Trump's expected de-certification of the deal does not automatically pull the plug on the deal or even US participation in it. Rather, it handballs the decision to Congress. 

A fact sheet distributed by the White House on Friday indicated that in his address, Trump will call for the agreement to be amended and more rigorously enforced. 

The agreement was signed between Iran and six world powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US -- at talks coordinated by the European Union.

While the deal stalled Iran's nuclear programme and thawed relations between Tehran and its "Great Satan", opponents say it also prevented efforts to challenge Iranian influence in the Middle East.

US officials say Trump will not kill the international accord outright, instead "decertifying" the agreement and leaving US lawmakers to decide its fate.

UN nuclear inspectors say Iran is meeting the technical requirements of its side of the bargain, dramatically curtailing its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at his US counterpart saying he was opposing "the whole world" by trying to abandon the agreement.

(Staff with AFP)

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stevenl

The beneficiaries of the Iran deal are China & Russia.

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