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Trump 'pulled out of Iran nuclear deal to spite Obama', says British envoy

Britain's ambassador to US believed Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal because it was associated with his predecessor Barack Obama

AFP | PTI  |  London 

Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump | Photo: Reuters

Britain's ambassador to Washington believed US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal because it was associated with his predecessor Barack Obama, leaked documents showed Saturday.

"The administration is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons -- it was Obama's deal," ambassador Kim Darroch wrote in a diplomatic cable in May 2018.

The cable was included in a second batch of leaked reports published by the Mail on Sunday newspaper, the first of which caused Darroch to resign earlier this week.

In May 2018, Britain's then-foreign minister Boris Johnson went to Washington to try to persuade Trump not to abandon the Iran deal.

In a cable sent afterwards, Darroch indicated there were divisions in Trump's team over the decision, and criticised the White House for a lack of long-term strategy.

"They can't articulate any 'day-after' strategy; and contacts with State Department this morning suggest no sort of plan for reaching out to partners and allies, whether in Europe or the region," Darroch wrote.

He reported back that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during his talks with Johnson, "did some subtle distancing by talking throughout about 'the President's decision'".

The newspaper reported that, according to Darroch, Pompeo also hinted that he had tried but failed to "sell" a revised text to Trump. In 2015, the United States, China, Britain, France, Russia and Germany signed a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for a partial lifting of economic sanctions.

Trump had long been critical of the deal and withdrew the United States on May 8, 2018. A first batch of leaked reports authored by Darroch last weekend caused major turmoil between Britain and its closest ally. Darroch was reported to have described the White House as "inept", prompting Trump to claim the ambassador was a "pompous fool" whom he would no longer deal with.

The ambassador resigned on Wednesday, saying it was now "impossible" to do his job. The British government has launched an investigation into the leaks, while police are also looking into a potential breach of the Official Secrets Act.

London's Metropolitan Police sparked widespread condemnation on Saturday after a warning to journalists that publishing leaked documents could be a criminal matter. Johnson, who is now in the race to succeed May as prime minister, said that prosecuting media outlets would have a "chilling effect on public debate".

First Published: Sun, July 14 2019. 04:36 IST
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