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German Ambassador On Keeping The Iran Deal


President Trump has a decision to make. By the middle of next month, he has to decide whether Iran has been holding up its end of the nuclear agreement. And if he thinks that it hasn't, then the whole agreement could fall apart. Trump railed against the deal on the campaign trail and in the White House, calling it, quote, "the worst deal I've ever seen."

In the meantime, European countries have been urging the U.S. to stick with it, among them, German Ambassador Peter Wittig. He joins us now on the line. Ambassador Wittig, thanks so much for being back on the program.

PETER WITTIG: Good morning.

MARTIN: From your point of view, what will happen if President Trump decides Iran is not complying?

WITTIG: Well, you know, this process between the president and the administration, that's an inner-American affair. What matters to us is that in the end, the Iran deal is not called into question, that it is being preserved. And we believe it is a deal worth preserving. It's robust, comprehensive and verifiable. And it's based on the strongest monitoring and verification regime in the world.

It basically prevents Iran from getting a nuclear bomb in the foreseeable future. And it's a really - it's a plus for regional and global security. So we believe to walk away from that deal would be a mistake while Iran is complying. And the International Atomic Agency, as you know, has on seven occasions said that Iran is complying. So we will lose our credibility if we walk away from a deal where the agency says Iran is sticking to it.

MARTIN: Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, has so far refused to discuss renegotiating this deal. But he said he's open to continuing it with other world powers. So is the U.S. crucial here or not?

WITTIG: Yes, the U.S. is crucial. And if the U.S. would decide to walk away, we believe it would unravel. Iran would probably be encouraged to resume its efforts for a nuclear bomb. It would increase the risk of nuclear arms race in the region. It would also - that's important. It would also weaken the global nonproliferation efforts. And let's not forget, there is sort of a link to North Korea here.

It would send a message to countries like North Korea that diplomatic and political agreements are not reliable and cannot be trusted. And we would lose that tool to negotiate agreements with other countries like North Korea. So it would be, as we believe, a mistake to walk away from that agreement while Iran is still complying.

And by the way, Chancellor Merkel discussed this yesterday with the president on the phone.

MARTIN: What was the nature of that call? I mean, what - how did she - presumably she was urging him to keep the deal?

WITTIG: Well, she underlined that we want the deal to hold, that we support the deal. And that's a top priority, by the way, not only for Germany but for the European countries. The whole of the European Union says that we should stick to the deal while Iran is complying. But at the same time, you know, the chancellor also made clear that we share concerns of the U.S. about the nefarious role of Iran in the region, about the missile testing, about, you know, human rights violations, et cetera.

And we can discuss that. And I think we should tackle those challenges from Iran together but on the basis of honoring that deal.

MARTIN: Peter Wittig is the German ambassador to the United States. Thanks so much for your time this morning, Mr. Ambassador.

WITTIG: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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