Exiting the Deal Part 4: World Reacts

Britain, France, Germany, and the European Union reaffirmed their commitment to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in the wake of President Trump's decision to withdraw from the accord and reimpose sanctions on Iran. "As long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear related commitments, as it is doing so far, the European Union will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal," E.U. High Representative Federica Mogherini said. "We urge the U.S. to ensure that the structures of the JCPOA can remain intact, and to avoid taking action which obstructs its full implementation by all other parties to the deal," British, French and German leaders said in a joint statement. The following are reactions to the U.S. withdrawal from world leaders. 


Iran Nuclear Deal Parties 

British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron

“It is with regret and concern that we, the Leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom take note of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States of America from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Together, we emphasise our continuing commitment to the JCPoA. This agreement remains important for our shared security. We recall that the JCPoA was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council in resolution 2231. This resolution remains the binding international legal framework for the resolution of the dispute about the Iranian nuclear programme. We urge all sides to remain committed to its full implementation and to act in a spirit of responsibility.

According to the IAEA, Iran continues to abide by the restrictions set out by the JCPoA, in line with its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The world is a safer place as a result. Therefore we, the E3, will remain parties to the JCPoA. Our governments remain committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld, and will work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure this remains the case including through ensuring the continuing economic benefits to the Iranian people that are linked to the agreement.

We urge the US to ensure that the structures of the JCPoA can remain intact, and to avoid taking action which obstructs its full implementation by all other parties to the deal. After engaging with the US Administration in a thorough manner over the past months, we call on the US to do everything possible to preserve the gains for nuclear non-proliferation brought about by the JCPoA, by allowing for a continued enforcement of its main elements.

We encourage Iran to show restraint in response to the decision by the US; Iran must continue to meet its own obligations under the deal, cooperating fully and in a timely manner with IAEA inspection requirements. The IAEA must be able to continue to carry out its long-term verification and monitoring programme without restriction or hindrance. In turn, Iran should continue to receive the sanctions relief it is entitled to whilst it remains in compliance with the terms of the deal.

There must be no doubt: Iran’s nuclear program must always remain peaceful and civilian. While taking the JCPOA as a base, we also agree that other major issues of concern need to be addressed. A long-term framework for Iran’s nuclear programme after some of the provisions of the JCPOA expire, after 2025, will have to be defined. Because our commitment to the security of our allies and partners in the region is unwavering, we must also address in a meaningful way shared concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile programme and its destabilising regional activities, especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. We have already started constructive and mutually beneficial discussions on these issues, and the E3 is committed to continuing them with key partners and concerned states across the region.

We and our Foreign Ministers will reach out to all parties to the JCPoA to seek a positive way forward.”

May 8, 2018, in a joint statement


European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini

"The European Union regrets today's statement by the President of the United States on the nuclear deal with Iran [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA]. Should the US reconsider this position, we would welcome it. The United States remain our closest partner and friend, and we will continue to work together on many other issues. As we have always said, the nuclear deal is not a bilateral agreement and it is not in the hands of any single country to terminate it unilaterally.

It has been unanimously endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231. It is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture, it is relevant in itself, but even more so in these times of encouraging signals on the perspective of the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. The nuclear deal with Iran is crucial for the security of the region, of Europe and of the entire world.

As long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear related commitments, as it is doing so far, the European Union will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal. We fully trust the work, competence and autonomy of the International Atomic Energy Agency that has published 10 reports certifying that Iran has fully complied with its commitments.

The lifting of nuclear related sanctions is an essential part of the agreement. The European Union has repeatedly stressed that the lifting of nuclear related sanctions has not only a positive impact on trade and economic relations with Iran, but also and mainly crucial benefits for the Iranian people. The European Union is fully committed to ensuring that this continues to be delivered on.

I am particularly worried by the announcement of new sanctions. I will consult with all our partners in the coming hours and days to assess their implications. The European Union is determined to act in accordance with its security interests and to protect its economic investments.

The nuclear deal with Iran is the culmination of 12 years of diplomacy. It belongs to the entire international community. It has been working and it is delivering on its goal, which is guaranteeing that Iran doesn’t develop nuclear weapons. The European Union is determined to preserve it. We expect the rest of the international community to continue to do its part to guarantee that it continues to be fully implemented, for the sake of our own collective security.

Let me conclude with a message to the Iranian citizens and leaders. To each and every one of them. Do not let anyone dismantle this agreement. It is one of the biggest achievements diplomacy has ever delivered, and we built this together. It is the demonstration that win win solutions are possible, through dialogue, engagement and perseverance. That common ground can be found, even when positions and interests differ. That respect can be a universal language.

This deal belongs to each and every one of us. Stay true to your commitments, as we will stay true to ours. And together, with the rest of the international community, we will preserve the nuclear deal."

May 8, 2018, in a statement


French President Emmanuel Macron

"I regret the decision of the American president. I think it's an error." 

May 9, 2018, speaking to DW TV and ARD, according to the


French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian

“The deal is not dead. There’s an American withdrawal from the deal but the deal is still there.”

“The region deserves better than further destabilization provoked by American withdrawal. So we want to adhere to it and see to it that Iran does too, that Iran behaves with restraint.”

“Yes, there is a real risk of confrontation. I hope it will not be a setback for peace.”

—May 9, 2018, in an interview with RTL radio, according to Reuters


French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire

"The international reach of US sanctions makes the US the economic policeman of the planet, and that is not acceptable."

The withdrawal gives European companies the "very short time of six months" to wind up investments before risking U.S. sanctions.

—May 9, 2018, to France Culture radio, according to The Guardian and AFP/The Local


British Prime Minister Theresa May

The deal was "an important step forward in helping keep the world safe." 

"...ballistic missiles, the question of what would happen at the sunset clause at the end of the nuclear deal, and the destabilizing activity of Iran in the region. Those are issues that need to be addressed and we are working with our European and other allies to do just that."

—May 9, 2018, in remarks to Parliament, according to CNN


British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

"The government regrets the decision of the US Administration to withdraw from the deal and to re-impose American sanctions on Iran.

We did our utmost to prevent this outcome; from the moment that President Trump’s Administration took office, we made the case for keeping the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) at every level.

Last Sunday I travelled to Washington and repeated this country’s support for the nuclear agreement in meetings with Secretary Pompeo, Vice-President Pence, National Security Adviser Bolton and others and my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister spoke to President Trump last Saturday.

The US decision makes no difference to the British assessment that the constraints imposed on Iran’s nuclear ambitions by the JCPoA remain vital for our national security and the stability of the Middle East.

Under the agreement, Iran has relinquished 95% of its low-enriched uranium, placed 2 thirds of its centrifuges in storage, removed the core of its heavy water reactor – thus closing off the plutonium route to a bomb, and allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to mount the most intrusive and rigorous inspection regime ever devised, an obligation on Iran that lasts until 2040.

The House should not underestimate the impact of these measures.

The interval needed for Iran to make enough weapons-grade uranium for 1 nuclear bomb is known as the “breakout” time.

Under the deal, Iran’s “breakout” time has trebled or even quadrupled from a few months to at least a year,and the plutonium pathway to a weapon has been blocked completely.

For as long as Iran abides by the agreement – and the IAEA has publicly reported its compliance, Iran’s compliance, 9 times so far – then Britain will remain a party to the JCPoA.

I remind the House that the JCPoA is an international agreement, painstakingly negotiated over 13 years – under both Republican and Democratic Administrations – and enshrined in UN Resolution 2231.

Britain has no intention of walking away; instead we will cooperate with the other parties to ensure that while Iran continues to restrict its nuclear programme, then its people will benefit from sanctions relief in accordance with the central bargain of the deal.

I cannot yet go into detail on the steps we propose to take, but I hope to make them available as soon as possible and I spoke yesterday to my French and German counterparts.

In his statement on January 12, President Trump highlighted important limitations of the JCPoA, including the fact that some constraints on Iran’s nuclear capacity expire in 2025.

Britain worked alongside France and Germany to find a way forward that would have addressed the President’s concerns and allowed the US to stay in the JCPoA, but without reopening the terms of the agreement.

I still believe that would have been the better course and now that our efforts on this side of the Atlantic have not succeeded, it falls to the US Administration to spell out their view of the way ahead.

In the meantime, I urge the US to avoid taking any action that would hinder other parties from continuing to make the agreement work in the interests of our collective national security.

I urge Iran to respond to the US decision with restraint and continue to observe its commitments under the JCPoA.

We have always been at one with the United States in our profound concern over Iran’s missile tests and Iran’s disruptive role in the Middle East, particularly in Yemen and Syria.

The UK has acted to counter Iran’s destabilising behaviour in the region – and we will continue to do so.

We remain adamant that a nuclear-armed Iran would never be acceptable to the United Kingdom; indeed Iran’s obligation not to “seek, develop or acquire” nuclear weapons appears – without any time limit – on the first page of the preamble to the JCPoA.

Yesterday President Trump promised to “work with our allies to find a real, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat”.

I have no difficulty whatever with that goal: the question is how the US proposes to achieve it?

Now that the Trump Administration has left the JCPoA, the responsibility falls on them to describe how they in Washington will build a new negotiated solution to our shared concerns, a settlement that must necessarily include Iran, China and Russia as well as countries in the region.

Britain stands ready to support that task, but in the meantime, we will strive to preserve the gains made by the JCPoA.

And I commend this statement to the House."

—May 9, 2018, in a statement to the House of Commons



German Chancellor Angela Merkel

"It is no longer the case that the United States will simply just protect us. Rather, Europe needs to take its fate into its own hands. That's the task for the future." 

 —May 10, 2018, at an award ceremony honroing French President Macron, according to Bloomberg 

"We have taken note with regret but also concern of this withdrawal by the United States of America, which is of course serious for such an agreement. We will remain committed to this agreement and try to do everything so that Iran also fulfills its commitments in the future." 

"Yesterday showed us once again that we face more responsibility in Europe, in foreign policy, in the area of securing peace, in the area of the political solutions we must find." 

—May 9, 2018, in a speech to her conservative party members, according to the Associated Press

"We must not question the Iran deal, however we also need to talk about a broader deal that goes beyond it." 

—May 9, 2018, at a news conference, according to CNN


German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas

"The deal is working. We want to keep in place the controls and transparency rules." 

"This is especially so given that it is totally unclear what the U.S. envisages as an alternative to the deal that prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons while being able to verify compliance." 

—May 9, 2018, at a news conference, according to Reuters

"We will also have to analyze what consequences the United States' withdrawal will have for European companies and how we in Europe can react to them together." 

—May 9, 2018, at a news conference, according to the Associated Press


German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz

"We'll try to do everything in our means so that European companies will be affected as little as possible." 

—May 9, 2018, at a news conference Reuters reported, according to PressTV


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

“We are seriously concerned about the decision of the US administration to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), thereby committing a significant violation of Security Council resolution 2231." 

—May 10, 2018, at a press conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, according to PressTV


Russian Foreign Ministry 

"We are deeply disappointed by US President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally give up commitments to implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme  (JCPOA) and to reinstate the US sanctions on Iran.

The JCPOA is a key multilateral agreement approved by the 2015 UNSC Resolution 2231. The Action Plan does not belong to the United States alone but is a domain of the entire international community, which has repeatedly reaffirmed its interest in the preservation and long-term sustainable implementation of the JCPOA for the sake of strengthening international and regional peace and security as well as the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

We are gravely concerned that the United States is acting once again in defiance of the opinions of the majority of states and exclusively out of its own narrow and opportunistic interests while grossly violating international law.

There are no and cannot be any grounds for undermining the JCPOA. The Plan has proved its absolute relevance. It efficiently tackles all the challenges it is designed to address.

Iran is abiding strictly with the obligations it has undertaken, which is regularly confirmed by the IAEA. We fully support and welcome that.

Unfortunately, Washington’s actions undermine the international community’s confidence in the IAEA, which has repeatedly proved its high professionalism in the course of the JCPOA implementation.

The decisions announced on May 8 are a new confirmation of Washington’s intractability. They also show that the US objections to Iran’s absolutely legal nuclear activity are nothing but a smokescreen for settling political scores with Iran.

Washington’s newly unveiled position is a significant violation of the JCPOA. A joint commission of the JCPOA member states must promptly and scrupulously consider and assess this situation using the established procedures.

Russia is open to further cooperation with the other JCPOA participants and will continue to actively develop bilateral collaboration and political dialogue with the Islamic Republic of Iran."

May 8, 2018, in a statement


Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang

“The Chinese side regrets the US decision to withdraw from the comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear issue… China will adopt an unbiased and responsible approach, will maintain a dialogue with all parties, continue to preserve and implement the comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program." 

May 9, 2018, in a briefing, according to Fars News Agency


China's Special Envoy for the MIddle East Gong Xiaosheng

"Having a deal is better than no deal. Dialogue is better than confrontation." 

—May 9, 2018, at a press conference, according to Xinhua News Agency via the Associated Press


World Reactions

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres

“I am deeply concerned by today’s announcement that the United States will be withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and will begin reinstating US sanctions.”

“I have consistently reiterated that the JCPOA represents a major achievement in nuclear non-proliferation and diplomacy. It has also contributed to regional and international peace and security." 

"It is essential that all concerns regarding the implementation of the Plan be addressed through the mechanisms established in the JCPOA. Issues not directly related to the JCPOA should be addressed without prejudice to preserving this agreement and its accopmlishments." 

"I call on other JCPOA participants to abide fully by their respective commitments under the JCPOA and all other member states to support this agreement." 

May 8, 2018, in a statement read by his spokesperson 


International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano

"The IAEA is closely following developments related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As requested by the United Nations Security Council and authorised by the IAEA Board of Governors in 2015, the IAEA is verifying and monitoring Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA. Iran is subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime under the JCPOA, which is a significant verification gain. As of today, the IAEA can confirm that the nuclear-related commitments are being implemented by Iran."

May 9, 2018, in a statement


President of the European Council Donald Tusk


President of the European Union Commission Jean-Claude Juncker

The United States "no longer wants to cooperate with other parts of the world."

"At this point, we have to replace the United States, which as an international actor has lost vigour and because of it, in the long term, influence." 

May 9, 2018, in an address to Belgium's Flemish regional parliament, according to the Associated Press


European Union Envoy to China Ambassador Hans Dietmar Schweisgut

"This is an agreement which belongs to the international community." 

"This is not an agreement that will fall apart if you just walk away." 

—May 9, 2018, at a press briefing, according to the Associated Press


Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel 


India Ministry of External Affairs

"India has always maintained that the Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved peacefully through dialogue and diplomacy by respecting Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy as also the international community’s strong interest in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. All parties should engage constructively to address and resolve issues that have arisen with respect to the JCPOA."

May 9, 2018, in a statement


Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball

"Well, certainly we regret the decision of the US, although of course President Trump had promised that, foreshadowed that, for a long time.

We encourage all parties to continue to comply with the deal and we certainly will do everything we can to support that."

May 9, 2018, in a radio interview with Fran Kelly of ABC Radio National


Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono

"1. The United States announced on May 8th that it will withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and begin reinstating US sanctions on Iran.

2. It would be discouraging should the announcement have a major impact that makes the continuation of the JCPOA difficult. Japan, however, continues to support the JCPOA which contributes to the strengthening of the international non-proliferation regime and stability of the Middle East, and hopes for constructive actions by relevant parties. Japan will remain in close communication with relevant parties to maintain the JCPOA.

3. Japan pays close attention to the situation while carefully analyzing possible influence that this announcement may cause."

May 9, 2018, in a statement



Click here for President Trump's remarks. 

Click here for the U.S. Treasury's statements on sanctions. 

Click here for Iran's response. 

Click here for congressional remarks. 

Click here for Obama-era officials' reactions. 

Click here for analysis by foreign policy and non-proliferation experts. 

Click here for responses from around the Middle East. 

Click here for Iranian media coverage. 

Some of the information in this article was originally published on May 8, 2018.