European Union and Iran foreign ministers meet in Brussels to support nuclear deal

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani at a cabinet meeting in Tehra

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani at a cabinet meeting in Tehra

The European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany and France put on a united front to defend the accord after talks in Brussels with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Britain, France and Germany called on Donald Trump on Thursday to uphold a pact curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions on the eve of a sanctions ruling by the USA president they fear could torpedo an accord he has relentlessly criticised.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it is important to build "worldwide support" for the deal and give Iran the chance to show it is a "good neighbor in the region".

The 2015 agreement was brokered by the Obama administration - along with the UK, Russia, France, Germany and China - obliging Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for the suspension of sanctions that had for years crippled its economy.

"If Trump decides to reimpose the nuclear-related sanctions waived under the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he will be creating a nonproliferation and security crisis and providing top Iranian officials - particularly Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - a propaganda bonanza", Kimball said.

President Trump can withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear agreement over the next week, though sources close to the process say he'll likely keep the U.S.in the deal for now, essentially holding together an agreement he says he loathes. On the other hand, his national security team is reportedly urging the president to keep the nuclear accord alive or risk setting off an worldwide crisis and possible Iranian renewal of its nuclear weapons program.

Iran has been gripped by anti-government protests in recent weeks, leading the Islamic Republic to imprison thousands of people. Or, as a worst case scenario, on encouraging Iran to stay the course, even if the USA pulls out of the deal.

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"In responding to developments in Iran, now and in the future, the USA should be careful not to take any steps that might undermine the JCPOA (nuclear agreement) which remains vital to US national security", it said.

"The president still strongly believes this is one of the worst deals of all time", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters as Trump's meeting started.

Trump has called the Iran deal "the worst deal ever negotiated" and repeatedly said he would like to end the USA commitment.

Speaking after today's meeting in Brussels, the EU's foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said: "The deal is working".

The agency's ability to ensure that compliance, through a strict regimen of inspections, is considered critical to the survival of the accord, which is meant to ensure that Iran's nuclear activities remain peaceful.

But with the latest USA certification deadline looming in mid-month, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Aragchi on January 8 said "the worldwide community must be prepared for the US possibly pulling out" of the agreement. Mr Straw detected a "pretty high degree of questioning about where Iran goes", he told the Guardian newspaper. Under that deal, the US agreed to keep sanctions lifted as long as Iran keeps its nuclear program frozen.

We asked experts who favor and oppose the Iran deal two questions: How would the protests influence Trump's decision-making on whether to stick with the deal?

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