Accessibility links

Breaking News

French President Says He Doesn't Expect Trump To Keep Honoring Iran Deal

U.S. President Donald Trump (left) with French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron said he does not expect U.S. President Donald Trump to continue honoring the Iran nuclear deal because of his campaign pledge to do away with it.

Speaking near the end of a three-day state visit to Washington late on April 25, Macron said Trump "will get rid of this deal on his own, for domestic reasons" and because of his "campaign commitment" to withdraw from the deal.

Macron spent hours with Trump during his visit and for months has sought repeatedly to persuade Trump to continue honoring Iran's landmark 2015 agreement with world powers, which granted Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear activities.

On April 24, the two leaders said they wanted to forge a new, broader deal going beyond the nuclear agreement to address concerns Trump has raised about Iran's ballistic missile development and involvement in the Syrian and Yemen civil wars.

But while Trump said at the time that he was open to such a broader agreement encompassing and going beyond the nuclear deal, he continued to voice strong opposition to the deal as he did during the campaign, calling it "insane" and "ridiculous."

"I have no inside information" on what decision Trump will make, Macron told journalists after making an address to the U.S. Congress late on April 25 in which he strongly urged legislators to stand by the nuclear accord.

"I listen to what President Trump is saying and it seems to me that he is not very eager to defend" the deal, Macron said. "The rational analysis of all his statements does not make me think that he will do everything to maintain it."

Asked whether a Trump decision to withdraw would signify a personal failure for him, Macron said that his role "is not to try to convince President Trump to walk away from his campaign commitments."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also expected to make a last-ditch effort to persuade Trump to honor the deal in a visit to Washington on April 27.

Trump must decide by May 12 whether to continue waiving U.S. sanctions on Tehran as required under the deal. If he does not, it would be a breach of the agreement that Iran has vowed to reciprocate, opening the door to the unravelling of the deal.

Macron's comments came as the aircraft giant Boeing announced it has delivered several passenger planes intended for Iran to other buyers as a result of Trump's withdrawal threat.

The plane purchases were authorized and licensed to be delivered to IranAir under one of the provisions of the nuclear accord that envisioned the sale of hundreds of U.S. and European aircraft to Tehran, which has an aging and deteriorating fleet of passenger aircraft it is seeking to replace.

"We have no Iranian deliveries that are scheduled or part of the [production] skyline this year, so those have been deferred in line with the U.S. government process," Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg told a conference call on April 25.

Because of a pick-up in demand for 777 jetliners elsewhere around the world, Muilenburg said he is no longer as concerned as he once was that a collapse of the deal could force Boeing to cut production and eliminate hundreds of jobs for American workers.

Boeing agreed in December 2016 to sell 80 aircraft to IranAir. It was expected to deliver 15 777 long-range jets to Iran and had obtained U.S. export licenses to carry out the sales.

Three of the 777s were tentatively set for delivery this year, but the company said it has now shifted those deliveries to other buyers.

Muilenburg said Boeing will not have to trim production of the $347 million jet even if all of its Iranian sales are cancelled as a result of a Trump withdrawal.

"The production rate that we have put in place is not dependent on the Iranian orders," he said.

"If those orders do come to fruition, if we do ultimately deliver airplanes, those represent opportunities for us. But we are going to follow the U.S. government's lead and we have ensured that...we are not dependent on those aircraft," he said.

Iranian officials have accused Washington of hampering not only the delivery of the U.S. aircraft, but also hamstringing Iran's plans to purchase dozens of European planes as authorized under the accord.

IranAir ordered 100 Airbus jets and 20 Franco-Italian ATR turboprops. It has taken delivery of three Airbus and 8 ATRs.

The European firms must get U.S. export licenses to complete their deals because their planes include component parts made in the United States.

So far Washington has issued licenses covering a period that would allow about a third of the Airbus deliveries to go ahead. It is unclear how a U.S. withdrawal would affect those sales.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters