USA ambassador to London pushes Britain to ditch Iran deal

Back us not Brussels on Iran, US ambassador tells Theresa May as he warns British businesses will lose trade

LONDON, Aug 12 (Reuters) - The United States urged Britain on Sunday to ditch its support for a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and instead join forces with Washington to counter the global threat it says Tehran poses.

Accusing Iran of "squandering its money on proxy wars and malign activities overseas", US Ambassador Woody Johnson's op-ed in the Sunday Telegraph asked the UK to "use its considerable diplomatic power and influence" to join the US "as a united front" in its effort to secure "a genuinely comprehensive agreement" on Iran ending its nuclear program.

In the article, Johnson said the Trump administration is "determined to make sure they [the sanctions] are fully enforced".

The UK, France, Russia, China, Germany and the European Union, which also signed the deal, have criticized Trump's decision and continue to back the agreement with Iran.

Asked if British companies could expect Britain to stand its ground over deal, a British minister, Alistair Burt, told reporters last week, "They can expect us to do that, yes".

Britain and its European allies responded with dismay to the U.S. president's decision in May to pull out of the 2015 deal which relieved sanctions on Tehran in return for an end to Iran's military nuclear ambitions.

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On Tuesday, the USA had re-imposed the first round of economic sanctions on Iran, which mainly target the country's banking sector.

"It is clear that the danger from Iran did not diminish in the wake of the [2015 Iran] deal", Johnson wrote.

"America is turning up the pressure and we want the United Kingdom by our side".

He said this statement should be seen as a warning by the other side against discarding the nuclear deal, stressing that Iran can even show more extensive progress in other parts of its nuclear activities to go beyond the previous levels.

May's position is likely to become even more awkward in the coming days as she's forced to choose between European leaders, whose support she needs for a favorable Brexit deal or a USA leader determined to secure EU compliance with reimposed sanctions on Iran, fear British officials.

Woody Johnson said that America's "closest ally" should reverse its position.

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