Iran sparked widespread public protests after confirming the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down Ukraine Airlines Flight 752 by accident hours after targeting two US airbases in retaliation for the murder of general Qassem Soleimani. Donald Trump and the European Union urged Tehran to agree to head back to the negotiating table to strike a nuclear deal, with Richard Goldberg warning the US, UK and EU3 – Germany, France and Italy – are expected to dial up pressure on the regime. Speaking to the Today programme, Mr Goldberg said: “What Britain and the EU3 generally are seeing, especially in the wake of the shootdown of the Ukrainian jet, is the moment in time to join the maximum pressure campaign and try to get some sort of new deal the President would be able to negotiate.
“We saw comments from Prime Minister Johnson to that effect just in the last day. The President has been very clear he is not going to provide any sanction relief as an incentive to get to the table.
“The Mullahs are going to have to choose between economic collapse and the end of their regime, or coming to the table.”
Iran announced plans to end nuclear restrictions agreed under the deal negotiated with the European Union and the US during the Obama administration in 2015.
But strict economic sanctions Donald Trump issued in 2018 have been having a crippling impact on the country and Mr Goldberg suggested the Islamic Republic could face popular pressure to reach an agreement to end the economic punishment.
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The National Security Advisor aide continued: “I think we’re going to see unless they fall from the pressure of their own people who are on the streets right now, the decision to negotiate.
“The most important question now is between today and in October, do we want to see a regime who enters the end of the year into 2021 starting to reap some of the so-called sunsets of the nuclear deal if the deal remains intact, or do we want to make sure the arms embargo set to expire in October continue on?”
Despite Foreign Minister Javad Zarif insisting Iran had “concluded” its retaliatory plan with the strike on two US airbases in Iraq last week, President Hassan Rouhani warned European troops are still under threat because of potential attacks.
In a televised speech this morning, he hit out at the EU for “failing to act as an independent block”, and urged European leaders to apologise for its failure to keep its promises.
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Boris Johnson on Wednesday suggested that Iran and the US should broker a new nuclear deal, after Iran pulled out of the existing 2015 accord in retaliation to US airstrikes.
President Donald Trump had already withdrawn from the nuclear deal in 2018.
Mr Rouhani told Washington to return to the 2015 nuclear pact between Tehran and world powers, adding that Iran could reverse its moves to scale back its commitments under the pact.
Tensions between the two states have escalated dramatically in recent weeks, after the US launched an airstrike on Baghdad airport, killing Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.