Leading Republican Says U.S. Best Served by Staying in Iran Deal

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(Bloomberg) -- The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Sunday he “would counsel against” President Donald Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal this week.

“I thought it was a bad deal,” Representative Mac Thornberry said of the 2015 accord on “Fox News Sunday.” “But the key question is, ‘OK, now we are where we are, what happens next if the U.S. pulls out?’”

Thornberry, a Texas Republican, suggested Iran could kick out inspectors if the deal is scrapped, “so that we lose what visibility we have there.” He also said that rising tensions between Iran and the Israel would make it crucial for the U.S. and its allies in the deal “to be united to prevent that conflict.”

“Maybe the best thing is for the president to delay a bit more his deadline,” Thornberry added, suggesting that the U.K. and France could pursue their suggestion of new negotiations to strengthen the deal.

Iran, however, has ruled out new talks, calling the current agreement “non-negotiable.”

Historic Regret

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said the U.S. would find ending the deal “a regret of historic proportions.” At the same time, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said it’s better to block what he terms Iranian aggression sooner rather than later.

Trump has recently refused to reveal what he’ll do by the May 12 deadline. While repeating his belief that the existing accord is “a horrible agreement for the United States,” he’s also suggested the U.S. could stay in.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives in Washington on Sunday in an effort to salvage the pact. He’s due to meet with Vice President Mike Pence, national security adviser John Bolton and other senior administration and Congressional officials over two days.

Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the U.S., said U.K. officials have ideas and think “we can find some language, produce some action that meets” Trump’s concerns about the Iran deal.

“Plan A is that the U.S. stays in the deal,” Darroch said. “But of course we are looking at all the eventualities.”

The U.K. will honor the deal as long as Iran is in compliance and wants to remain part of it and is looking at options for maintaining the agreement should the U.S. withdraw, he said.

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