Boris Johnson has called for a “Trump deal” on Iran, as he said the US president is the “one guy” who can negotiate a new nuclear pact amid escalating tensions.
The prime minister said the existing deal had “many defects”, in a break from previous UK policy, and called for a new agreement.
And, in an interview with a US broadcaster, he praised the confrontational business mogul-cum-president Donald Trump, who pulled out of the nuclear deal, as the leader to broker a new one.
Johnson’s calls for a replacement to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) deal quickly earned him praise from the president, who described him as “a winner”.
However, the PM’s comments came as he released a joint statement with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron expressing their “continued commitment” to the JCPoA.
The statement from the UK, Germany and France after the leaders met in New York said it is “clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack” as they condemned it “in the strongest terms”.
Johnson’s comments came after he formally blamed the Islamic republic for attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, and as he prepares to meet the nation’s president Hassan Rouhani and Trump in separate meetings on Tuesday.
“Let’s do a better deal,” Johnson said in an interview at the residence of the UK consulate general in New York.
“I think there’s one guy who can do a better deal… and that is the President of the United States. I hope there will be a Trump deal.”
But Downing Street moved to stress that Johnson supports the nuclear deal.
“The PM supports the JCPoA,” a Government spokesman said.
“The Iranians aren’t currently in compliance and we need to bring them back into compliance. If there’s a way to do that, we’re open to discussing possible solutions.”
Johnson was talking after a terse exchange of words with Iran, saying Iran was responsible for the Aramco attacks with a “very high degree of probability”.
Iran countered by rejecting the PM’s remarks and criticising “fruitless efforts against the Islamic republic of Iran”.
The US and Saudi Arabia had already accused Iran of being behind the September 14 raids on the world’s largest oil processor and an oil field, causing a spike in prices.
But Johnson gave the first attribution of blame from the UK before landing in the US in the early hours of Monday UK time, as he flew to the States. Tehran has issued denials.