Iran nuclear deal will remain valid regardless of U.S. decision, says EU policy chief

President Trump is expected to decertify Iran’s compliance with the international nuclear agreement struck in 2015. Judy Woodruff speaks with Federica Mogherini, foreign policy chief for the European Union and one of the nuclear deal’s chief negotiators, on whether the pact could still hold despite the president’s decision and her reaction to Trump’s leadership.

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    From Tehran, we turn to Brussels, and Federica Mogherini, the European Union's high representative for foreign affairs and security.

    She was the chief negotiator among the U.S., five other world powers and Iran when the nuclear agreement was signed in July 2015. The united Security Council endorsed it days later.

    When I spoke with Mogherini earlier today, I started by asking her whether the deal could still hold up, as it has been widely reported, if President Trump doesn't recertify.

  • FEDERICA MOGHERINI, Foreign Policy Chief, European Union:

    Well, first of all, let me remind us all that the atomic agency, the IAEA, has certified eight times that Iran is compliant with all the commitments included in the agreement. Eight times, last time just a few weeks ago.

    We have the international community strongly behind the full implementation of the deal that has prevented Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

    So, the deal not only will hold, but the deal doesn't belong to one country or another. It's a U.N. Security Council resolution, and the entire international community, from Russia to China to Japan to Latin America to Europe and the European Union, will continue to guarantee that the deal will hold, is implemented, and that the Iranians will continue to stick to their nuclear commitments.


    So, if he were to take the step, to say that Iran is not in compliance, what would it mean for the European Union, for the other U.S. allies in Europe?


    Well, the rest of the international community will continue to stick to the agreement, as we have done so far.

    Let me also say something that is very important. And I think the American people understand this perfectly well. We are living in a moment of tensions and growing risks on the nuclear side. We're seeing threats coming from the DPRK. And, there, we see, regrettably, that there is no mechanism still in place to avoid a nuclear proliferation.

    We have one agreement that, on nuclear-related issues, has worked now two years consistently. This is definitely not the right moment to dismantle a piece of nuclear nonproliferation arrangements that is currently working and showing also in this way the good example for the rest of the world.


    It's being reported here President Trump is doing this because he believes this is going to give him more political leverage over other co-signers to renegotiate the deal.

    Do you agree that this — that it would create pressure on you and the others to renegotiate, that it could change the circumstances?


    No, this deal has been negotiated for 12 years and has put together major world powers, and has been, as I said, unanimously voted by the U.N. Security Council, 12 years of negotiations, 102 pages of clear details on extremely complex nuclear-related aspects.

    It's not a deal you can easily open and renegotiate. There is no technical nor political space to renegotiate this deal. I can tell you something. Already, in other cases, the United States decided to step out of an agreement, the rest of the world stick to it.

    I think of the Paris climate agreement, for instance. What will happen is not pressure to renegotiate an agreement that cannot be renegotiated and should not be renegotiated, because it's working, and it's proven to be working.

    What will happen will simply be that the United States will contravene an a U.N. Security Council resolution, and the rest of the world will stick to it.


    Well, given that, if President Trump does go ahead, declare that Iran is not in compliance, what will you and the other signatories do about it? What are your options?


    I understand that, whatever message the president will pass, it will be then up to Congress to make its own decisions.

    But I would like to underline one thing that is important. This is not a treaty or an agreement that the United States and Iran stipulated among themselves. We are talking again here of a U.N. Security Council resolution that is and will remain valid, whatever decision the United States will take.


    Ms. Mogherini, more broadly, there have been some disturbing critiques President Trump made recently by the chairman of our Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker.

    Among other things, he said the secretary of state, the secretary of defense and the White House chief of staff are — quote — "all that's separating us from chaos." He also said that President Trump is making reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation — quote — "on the path to World War III."

    I want to ask you, as the leader of the European Union, how do you view President Trump's actions with regard to world affairs since he's taken office?


    It is true that, with the United States, we have longstanding friendship, a strong partnership, many things we continue to do together, but also some points of difference, when it comes to some of the foreign policy or security policy approaches that this administration — or President Trump, rather, personally is taking.

    And I would like to stress this once again. We are living in dangerous times in the world. For once that we have an agreement that is functioning, that is working, that is delivering, the worst thing you can do is trying to dismantle it, also because you would show the way to others that making deals actually is not worth it, because the message that America would send to the rest of the world is that America cannot be trusted upon, because a deal that America voted for just two years ago in the U.N. Security Council, with a resolution unanimously adopted, a deal that America helped to shape enormously, enormously, would be rejected by the same country.

    If we pass the message that every change of administration in Washington or elsewhere, deals are thrown away and renegotiated, no one would negotiate with any administration ever, and any deal would be exposed to be renegotiated every term.

    This is not a way of making deals, not in foreign policy, not in private businesses. And I think President Trump understands this perfectly well.


    High Representative Federica Mogherini, thank you very much for talking with us.


    Thank you.

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