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UK's Boris Johnson suggests swapping Iran nuclear deal for 'Trump deal'

British prime minister says the deal should be replaced as other European powers scramble to save it
Boris Johnson said he was not seeking any sort of military conflict with Iran (Reuters)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested the Iran nuclear deal should be "replaced" with a Donald Trump version of the agreement, throwing his support behind Washington amid heightened US-Iran tensions.

Johnson said on Tuesday that he understood Trump's concerns that the 2015 deal was "flawed" and insisted there needs to be a way to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

"We're going to come under pressure, everybody will say, 'well you've got to get rid of this nuclear deal, the JCPOA,' that's what Trump wants," he told BBC Breakfast.

"If we're going to get rid [of it] we need a replacement," Johnson added. "Let's replace it with a Trump deal."

Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iran told Reuters that Washington was "very pleased" by the prime minister's comments.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal, was signed by the US, Iran, France, Germany, the UK, the European Union, China and Russia in 2015. 

Its aim was to curb Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for lifting heavy sanctions against Iran.

Flawed deal by Obama

France, Russia and other European powers have been scrambling to protect the existing nuclear accord ever since Trump walked away from it in 2018, and reinstituted sanctions against Tehran.

'Plus it was negotiated by President Obama and from their point of view it has many, many faults'

- Boris Johnson, UK prime minister

Now after months of hostilities between the US and Iran that peaked with the US killing of Iranian top general Qassem Soleimani, fears of the deal's complete collapse have grown.

Iran announced soon after that it would no longer stick to restrictions on uranium enrichment or the numbers or types of centrifuges it can operate.

Johnson said the US was not able to follow the agreement because it was made by the administration of former President Barack Obama.

"The problem with the agreement is that from the American perspective it's a flawed agreement," Johnson said. "Plus it was negotiated by President Obama and from their point of view it has many, many faults."

"President Trump is a great dealmaker, by his own account. Let's work together to replace the JCPOA and get the Trump deal instead."

No military conflict with Iran

Despite pressure from Trump to abandon the deal, the European signatories, China and Russia have so far stood by the 2015 agreement.

Earlier on Tuesday, France, Britain and Germany confirmed they had triggered the dispute mechanism in the Iran nuclear deal as a result of Tehran's ongoing violations.

However, they said they were not joining the US "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran.

Europeans trigger dispute mechanism in Iran nuclear deal
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On Monday, Johnson signed a joint statement with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in which they pledged to work together to get the deal back from the brink.

The UK prime minister's comments on Tuesday have, however, made it seem that he is veering away from the country's European allies to side with Washington.

Speaking on US-Iran tensions, Johnson said he was not seeking any sort of armed conflict with Iran.

"I don't want a military conflict between us, the United States, and Iran. Let's dial this thing down," Johnson said.