British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urged U.S. President Donald Trump to row back on threats to quit the Iran nuclear deal which he will cite as a diplomatic blueprint for solving tensions with North Korea, The Independent reports.
The foreign secretary pointed to the success of the Iran deal while calling for “toughness but engagement” with Pyongyang following increasingly warlike rhetoric between the U.S. President and Kim Jong-un.
In a speech in London, Johnson said that Trump was right to keep military action on the table in the face North Korea’s increasing nuclear capabilities, but he will also praise U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for opening the door to talks.
However, he underscored that no one wants a military response to the crisis and suggested that the Iran process represented the kind of “diplomatic imagination” that could provide a solution. Giving a speech at Chatham House’s conference in central London, the foreign secretary said the Iran deal proved crucial at a time when the country had been “only months away” from producing a nuclear weapon, which could have triggered an arms race in “one of the most volatile regions of the world.”
“Think of the nightmare that deal has avoided,” he said. Comparing the situation to the Cold War, Johnson said:
“The public can be forgiven for genuinely starting to wonder whether the nuclear sword of Damocles is once again held over the head of a trembling human race.”
Trump drew international concern when he decertified the 2015 pact with Iran and last week repeated threats to pull out of the landmark deal. Johnson will urge him to invoke the spirit of the 1970 nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which avoided a “Gadarene Rush to destruction” by turning the world into a “great arena of Mexican stand-offs.”
He will praise the “extraordinary” achievement of the treaty which has contributed to the “unprecedented epoch of peace and prosperity that we have all been living through.”
“That far-sightedness is now needed more than ever, not only to keep the NPT, but also one of its most valuable complementary accords, the nuclear deal with Iran,” Johnson added.
Johnson said Trump had not “junked” the deal and with “determination and courage” the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA) deal could be preserved. He acknowledged concerns about Iran’s support for Hezbollah, its supply of weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen and interference in Syria.
“But that does not mean for one minute that we should write Iran off, or that we should refuse to engage with Iran or that we should show disrespect to its people. On the contrary, we should continue to work to demonstrate to that population that they will be better off under this deal and the path of re-engagement that it prescribes,” he said.
Warning of the consequences of diplomatic failure, the foreign secretary highlighted how a “new generation has grown up with no memory of the threat of a nuclear winter, and little education in the appalling logic of mutually assured destruction.”
“The NPT is one of the great diplomatic achievements of the last century. It has stood the test of time. In its restraint and its maturity it shows an unexpected wisdom on the part of humanity, and almost evolutionary instinct for the survival of the species. It is the job of our generation to preserve that agreement, and British diplomacy will be at the forefront of the endeavour,” he said.