Effectively rebuffing Donald Trump, the leaders of the UK and Germany have backed the July 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, Germany, France, Russia, and China).

A spokeswoman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said she and Chancellor Angela Merkel “agreed the UK and Germany both remained firmly committed to the deal”.

However, the statement also cautioned the Islamic Republic, “They also agreed the international community needed to continue to come together to push back against Iran’s destabilising regional activity, and to explore ways of addressing concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile programme.”

Iranian State outlet Press TV reported the portion of the statement about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but omitted the call about Iranian missiles and actions in the Middle East.

On Friday, Trump — restrained by senior advisors — stepped back from withdrawal from the JCPOA. While “decertifying” Iranian compliance, he kicked the issue to Congress of whether to reimpose sweeping sanctions.

However, Trump proclaimed a confrontation with Tehran over its regional policies and operations and insisted that ballistic missile testing would have to be part of a revised deal. He also announced specific sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Iran’s leaders responded with a combination of defiance and an appeal to others to side with the Islamic Republic. President Hassan Rouhani derided Trump for an ignorance of history, beginning with the 1953 US coup against an elected government. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hit back at the sanctions on the Guards.

European leaders and diplomats, including the European Union’s Federica Mogherini, immediately backed the JCPOA. May and Merkel issued a joint statement with French President Emmanuel Macron calling for the deal to be maintained.

UK Foreign Minister Speaks with Zarif

As May and Merkel issued their statement, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson spoke with Zarif by phone.

Iranian media declared that Johnson expressed full British support for the nuclear agreement. It did not mention if other issues, such as Iranian activity from Syria to Iraq to Lebanon and the ballistic missiles, were discussed.

UK media have not noted the phone call.

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