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Who said what about the Iran nuclear deal at the UN this week

France's President Emmanuel Macron meets with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in New York
LUDOVIC MARIN (AFP)
Who is for it, who is opposed and who is somewhere in the middle

The leaders' week at the United Nations General Assembly this year was billed as a showdown on the future of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

As widely forecast, many of the key characters staked out their positions on the accord, which United States President Donald Trump said during the 2016 election campaign that he wanted to scrap. On Wednesday, he declared he had “decided” what he was going to do about the deal, but wouldn’t divulge exactly what that was.

Both Trump and his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, along with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, singled out the sunset clause in the deal -- formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- as demanding revision. Iran's president ruled out any changes. This may be where the debate heads next.

Here are the take-out quotes from the main characters.

AGAINST THE DEAL

TIMOTHY A. CLARY (AFP)

President of the United States Donald Trump

“We cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it -- believe me.”

Trump’s use of the word “eventual” may hint at frustration with the sunset clauses in the JCPOA, described by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson below. The accord has a “termination day” -- ten years from the day of implementation -- after which many of the stipulations will expire.

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu

The sunset clause also made a starring cameo in the Israeli premier's remarks before the Assembly.

“Two years ago, I stood here and explained why the Iranian nuclear deal not only doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, Iran’s nuclear program has what’s called a sunset clause. Let me explain what that term means: it means that in a few years, those restrictions will be automatically removed -- not by a change in Iran’s behavior, not by a lessening of its terror or its aggression. They’ll just be removed by a mere change in the calendar.

"And I warned that when that sunset comes, a dark shadow will be cast over the entire Middle East and the world, because Iran will then be free to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, placing it on the threshold of a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons. That’s why I said two years ago that the greater danger is not that Iran will rush to a single bomb by breaking the deal, but that Iran will be able to build many bombs by keeping the deal.”

FOR THE DEAL

ATTA KENARE (AFP)

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani

"The JCPOA can become a new model for global interactions, based on mutual constructive engagement between all of us. We have opened our doors to engagement and cooperation. We have concluded scores of development agreements with advanced countries of both East and West.

Ladies and gentlemen, just imagine for a moment how the Middle East would look had the JCPOA not been concluded. Imagine that along with civil wars, terror, humanitarian nightmares and complex sociopolitical crises in West Asia that there was a manufactured nuclear crisis. How would we all fare?"

I declare before you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party. It will be a great pity if this agreement would be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics."

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini

"There are other issues that are out of the scope of the agreements and these issues might be tackled in different formats, in different fora, including the fact -- that it's not a mystery I guess -- the United States is having a review on its own Iranian policy. This is out of the discussion of the JCPOA, out of the discussion of this format, and we are sticking to the point that the nuclear agreement is working, is delivering, it's functioning," Mogherini told reporters on the sidelines of the summit.

"We already have one potential nuclear crisis. We definitely do not need to go into a second one. This is an agreement that prevented a nuclear programme and potentially prevented a military intervention. Let's not forget that."

She also said that during the meeting of the deal's signatories, the US said that Iran is complying with the terms of the deal.

President of France Emmanuel Macron

“Is this agreement enough? No. It is not, given the evolution of the regional situation and increasing pressure that Iran is exerting on the region, and given increased activity by Iran on the ballistic level since the accord," he told reporters. "We have to keep the 2015 agreement because it was a good one with strong monitoring of the current situation, and and we have to add two or three pillars."

Macron suggested the pillars could be "one to better control ballistic missiles and ballistic activities" and another to prolong the agreement beyond 2025, when limits on Iran's nuclear enrichment will start to expire. A possible third pillar would involve "open discussions with Iran about the current situation in the region."

Germany's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel

“Now we will all try to convince the Americans in the remaining weeks ... that calling the agreement into question will not increase security,” Gabriel was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Gabriel reportedly said to reporters that it would be "tragic" if the deal fell apart, and a "terrible signal" to North Korea. “What should motivate countries like North Korea or others to enter into negotiations in the future when the one example of such a deal is being destroyed?”

SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN

AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

In conversation with reporters after his meeting with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif on Wednesday, he conceded that Iran is complying with the JCPOA’s “technical aspects”.

Tillerson sees one of the “expectations” of the agreement as stability and peace in the Middle East. He revealed his take on the issue when he said that “regrettably, since the agreement was confirmed, we have seen anything but a more peaceful, stable region. And this is the real issue.”

“And that’s why we talk about Iran defaulting on these expectations, because those expectations clearly have not been met,” the Secretary of State clarified.

Later he hinted that one of Trump’s chief gripes is the sunset clause: "But I think in particular, the agreement has this very concerning shortcoming that the President has mentioned as well, and that is the sunset clause, where one can almost set the countdown clock to when Iran can resume its nuclear weapons programs, its nuclear activities. And that’s something that the President simply finds unacceptable."

NO COMMENT

British Prime Minister Theresa May did not mention Iran during her address, although Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson expressed support for it in London last week.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov will address the Assembly on Thursday. Both states are also party to the agreement.

Read more: Khamenei says Trump's UN speech was 'gangster' talk

Read more: Nuclear watchdog rebuffs Israeli officials' claims it is 'weak' on Iran

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