President tells UK officials he wants to engage in talks with Tehran to broaden nuclear deal
Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor
Wed 5 Jun 2019
Donald Trump assured the UK about his intention to avoid military confrontation with Tehran during a state visit to Britain. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty
Donald Trump has told British officials he is not seeking a military confrontation with Iran and is instead aiming for direct talks with Tehran over his plan to negotiate and broaden the country’s nuclear deal.
Despite the assurances, British officials remain nervous the US president may have only 30 days before Iran takes irreversible steps to forgo the agreement.
The assurance that Trump is not seeking war with Iran was made by US officials to British counterparts in talks surrounding the president’s three-day state visit to the UK. They also claimed the US policy of sending extra troops and an aircraft carrier to the region had acted as a deterrent.
Britain, at odds with Washington over how to handle Iran, acknowledges the US policy of applying maximum economic pressure is taking a huge toll on Iran and has pushed the country close to insolvency. Officials also said Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, had a mandate to determine whether the conditions for talks could be reached.
But with Iran set to take further steps within a month to break out of the deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan for Action – the UK remains nervous the two sides do not have long to reach an agreement on the terms for talks. Further actions by Tehran are likely to lead to a declaration by the International Atomic Energy Authority that Iran is not in compliance with the deal, ratcheting up tensions.
Trump’s antics over Iran have endangered us all. The stakes are now lethally high