British PM: Iran deal is 'vitally important'

British PM Theresa May disagrees with Trump, tells Gulf leaders nuclear agreement with Tehran is “vitally important” for regional security.

Ben Ariel ,

Theresa May
Theresa May

British Prime Minister Theresa May told Gulf leaders on Wednesday that the nuclear agreement with Tehran is “vitally important” for regional security, The Wall Street Journal reported.

She also stressed that she is “clear-eyed” about the threat Iran poses.

May’s comments on the deal came at a meeting of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council in Bahrain, and contrast with those of President-elect Donald Trump, who said during his campaign that he would tear up the nuclear deal.

May told the Gulf leaders the Iran deal had “neutralized” the possibility of Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons for over a decade.

“That was vitally important for regional security,” she said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “But we must also work together to push back against Iran’s aggressive regional actions, whether in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Syria or in the Gulf itself.”

During the election campaign, Trump publicly spoke out against the Iran deal, calling it “disastrous” and vowing to “rip it up” as president.

After he won the election, Trump’s senior foreign policy adviser, Walid Phares, hinted that while Trump might not actually rip up the agreement, he would act to change it.

Iranian officials have downplayed Trump’s threats to annul the nuclear deal, insisting he cannot do so even if he wishes.

One of those officials is Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who has said the deal is irreversible. On Tuesday, he declared that he wouldn’t let Trump rip up the deal.

Trump’s initial picks for his national security team, retired Army Gen. Mike Flynn as national security adviser and Rep. Mike Pompeo as head of the Central Intelligence Agency, have expressed strong opposition to the deal.

May is the first British prime minister to attend a summit of the Gulf bloc. She is seeking to boost trade with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, as Britain prepares to withdraw from the European Union.

Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, expressed concern over the Iran deal but later changed their minds and welcomed the deal.