The United Nations secretary general added his voice on Thursday to the international call urging President Donald Trump to maintain the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, days before the president is expected to announce his decision on the agreement.
“I believe the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)] was an important diplomatic victory and I think it will be important to preserve it, but I also believe there are areas in which it will be very important to have a meaningful dialogue because I see the region in a very dangerous position,” António Guterres told BBC Radio 4.
Guterres added that the risks of a confrontation between Israel and Iran are real, and said, “We need to do everything to avoid those risks.”
The secretary general’s statement comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed directly to Trump, in a televised presentation and an appearance on Fox & Friends, to pull out of the deal, in which Iran agreed to permit regular inspections of its nuclear sites in exchange for loosened sanctions.
Trump has claimed the deal is a “major embarrassment” to the US despite widespread agreement among global leaders and arms control experts that the deal offers the best chance to restrain Iran’s nuclear activities and to work towards friendly international relations with the country.
International investigators have repeatedly declared that Iran has been in compliance with the agreement since it was reached three years ago and Iran has stated repeatedly — both before the deal was signed and currently — that it has no intentions of desire to have a nuclear weapons program.
“If one day there is a better agreement to replace it it’s fine, but we should not scrap it unless we have a good alternative,” Guterres said.
As Trump’s May 12 deadline for deciding whether to scrap the deal approaches, his negative view of the JCPOA has left him alienated in the US as well as in the international community. A Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday found that 56 percent of respondents support staying in the deal.