October 9, 2017 / 8:19 AM / in 12 days

China says hopes Iran nuclear deal stays intact amid Trump criticism

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Monday it hopes the Iran nuclear deal will stay intact, playing an important role in keeping the peace, after a senior U.S. official said President Donald Trump is expected to decertify the agreement.

U.S. President Donald Trump heads to a fundraising event at the home of former New Breed Logistics CEO Louis DeJoy in Greensboro, North Carolina, from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, in suburban Washington, U.S., October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

The official, speaking last week on condition of anonymity, said Trump was also expected to roll out a broader U.S. strategy on Iran that would be more confrontational. The Trump administration has frequently criticized Iran’s conduct in the Middle East.

Trump, who has called the pact an “embarrassment” and “the worst deal ever negotiated”, has been weighing whether it serves U.S. security interests as he faces an Oct. 15 deadline for certifying that Iran is complying with its terms.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the Iran nuclear deal was a good example of how to solve something peacefully through talks.

The agreement had played a positive and important role in ensuring nuclear non-proliferation and protecting peace and stability in the Middle East, she added. 

“We hope that the comprehensive Iran nuclear agreement can continue to be earnestly implemented,” Hua told a daily news briefing.

Iranian authorities have repeatedly said Tehran would not be the first to violate the accord, under which Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in return for the lifting of most international sanctions that had crippled its economy.

If Trump declines to certify Iran’s compliance, U.S. congressional leaders would have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Tehran suspended under the agreement.

The prospect that Washington could renege on the pact, which was signed by the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, the European Union and Iran, has worried some U.S. allies.

China has close economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran, and was also instrumental in pushing through the landmark 2015 deal.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard

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