Monday, 30th October 2017

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Leak: Donald Trump junked Iran deal to spite Barack Obama

Darroch’s confidential reports to London followed a failed visit to the US in May 2018 by Boris Johnson

By Amit Roy in London
  • Published 15.07.19, 2:55 AM
  • Updated 15.07.19, 2:55 AM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
US President Donald Trump at the National Association of REALTORS Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo, on May 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP)

President Donald Trump scrapped the Iran nuclear deal to spite his predecessor Barack Obama in “an act of diplomatic vandalism”, the outgoing British ambassador in Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, said in a strongly worded message to London.

Darroch’s confidential reports to London followed a failed visit to the US in May 2018 by Boris Johnson, then Britain’s foreign secretary, aimed at persuading Trump not to cancel the agreement that President Obama, along with the European Union and the governments of the UK, Russia, France, China and Germany had signed with the Iranian regime in July 2015.

The Mail on Sunday has revealed that in a “diptel” (diplomatic telegram) sent to Boris and circulated in the foreign office and 10 Downing Street, Darroch said: “I’m grateful to you for coming out on short notice and undertaking such a packed programme.

“The outcome illustrated the paradox of this White House: you got exceptional access, seeing everyone short of the president; but on the substance, the administration is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons — it was Obama’s deal.

“Moreover, they can’t articulate any ‘day-after’ strategy; and contacts with State Department this morning suggest no sort of plan for reaching out to partners and allies, whether in Europe or the region.”

On May 8, 2018, immediately after Boris had returned empty handed to London, Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal which had been aimed at curtailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions in return for the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic regime.

In Washington, other than Trump, Boris had met all the senior powerbrokers, including Vice-President Mike Spence; the newly appointed secretary of state Mike Pompeo; the hawkish national security adviser John Bolton; the President’s chief of staff John Kelly and his daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, who was heavily involved in the West Asia peace process.

“The outcome illustrated the paradox of this White House: you got exceptional access, seeing everyone short of the president; but on the substance, the administration is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons — it was Barack Obama’s deal.
“The outcome illustrated the paradox of this White House: you got exceptional access, seeing everyone short of the president; but on the substance, the administration is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons — it was Barack Obama’s deal. (Shutterstock)

Darroch added in his memo to Boris: “Pence also took you aside and hinted that the President was looking for a new deal which ‘covered everything’: stopping Iranian nuclear activity — enrichment, production, reprocessing — entirely; halting their ballistic missile development; and forcing them to back off from their activities in the region.”

The ambassador described how the British delegation was surprised by the inability of any of Trump’s advisers to explain why he was so determined to junk the deal or their strategy after withdrawing from it.

“None of the three could articulate why the President was determined to withdraw, beyond his campaign promises,” he wrote. “And, even when you pressed, none had anything much to say about the day after, or a Plan B, beyond reimposition of US sanctions.”

These cables will have serious consequences as many in Britain will now argue that the country is being drawn into a possible war with Iran on a false pretext.

Other countries such as India, which is being forced to cut its oil and other traditional trading links with Iran, are also affected. War would also disrupt overflights in the region as well as the movement of Indian oil tankers, thereby severely damaging the Indian economy.

The UK has brought forward plans to send a second warship to the Gulf amid rising tensions with Iran. The HMS Duncan is currently in the Mediterranean and is expected to join the HMS Montrose in the region next week. It comes after the UK government said Iranian boats tried to impede a British oil tanker in the Gulf on Wednesday last week.

It is being reported that Britain’s security services have identified the person who leaked the cables and is building a case against the culprit that will stand up in court.

The Mail on Sunday has defended its right to publish the cables despite a warning from assistant commissioner Neil Basu, the man in

charge of anti-terrorism at Scotland Yard, that to do so would constitute a criminal offence.

The paper argued in a leader comment: “President Trump’s decision to pull out of Barack Obama’s Iran agreement has set the world on a risky and unpredictable course, which has already embroiled Britain in the seizure of a tanker off Gibraltar and a tense armed confrontation with Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Strait of Hormuz.

“The British people are entitled to know about the high-level disagreements between Western allies on this issue.”

“It is the readers of newspapers, not the powerful, whose sons and daughters will be in the warships, aircraft and military units which may well be drawn into this conflict.”

The paper also issued a statement: “Today The Mail on Sunday is publishing further extracts from leaked cables sent by Sir Kim Darroch, formerly Britain’s Ambassador to Washington.

“We have taken this decision, despite the threat of police prosecution, because a free press is vital to our democracy.

“Our readers across the globe now have important information about how Britain tried, but failed, to stop President Trump abandoning the Iran nuclear deal. What could be more in the public interest than a better understanding of how this position was reached, which may have serious consequences for world peace?”