United Nations chief warns against scrapping Iran nuclear deal

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The United Nations secretary general added his voice on Thursday to the worldwide 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.

Defying Western demands, Iran has repeatedly said it has no intention of reducing its imprint in Middle East affairs and its missile capabilities, which it has said are defensive in nature and have nothing to with nuclear activity covered by the deal.

Under the pact, sanctions were lifted in return for a commitment not to pursue a nuclear bomb, but Iran says it is not reaping the rewards despite complying with the deal.

The White House official said Mr. Trump was "most of the way there toward pulling out of the deal but he hasn't made the decision" and that he "seems poised to do it but until a decision is made by this President it is not final".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said Tehran "will not accept any restrictions beyond its commitments" to comply with global rules in the years ahead.The secretary general's comments came just days after Israel revealed what it said "secret nuclear files" accusing Iran of having covertly pursued nuclear weapons.

Ali Akbar Velayati said on Iran's state television website, "If the United States withdraws from the nuclear deal, then we will not stay in it".

European allies France, the United Kingdom and Germany meanwhile have agreed that pursuing the current nuclear deal with Iran is the best way to stop Tehran developing nuclear weapons.

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The Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is an global agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna, Austria on July 14, 2015 between Iran and China, France, UK, U.S., Russia, Germany and the EU. "This appeasement [of Trump] entails a new deal that would include matters we all chose to exclude at the outset of our negotiations".

Zarif was responding to Britain, France and Germany who said on Sunday that the nuclear agreement left out some "important elements".

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday reiterated his commitment to the accord but admitted that it needed strengthening.

One of the main sticking points has to do with the "sunsets", where the United States in effect wishes to find a way to extend some of the limits on Iran's nuclear program beyond their expiration dates under the agreement.

Technically, Trump must decide by May 12 whether to renew "waivers" suspending some of the USA sanctions on Iran.

The Islamic republic has always denied it sought a nuclear weapon, insisting its atomic programme was for civilian purposes.