UK envoy said Trump left Iran nuclear deal to spite Obama: Report

Leaked cables quote Britain’s US envoy as saying that US president ditched agreement because it was Obama’s deal.

Ambassador Kim Darroch speaks to guests during the Capitol File 2017 WHCD Welcome Reception at the British Ambassador''s Residence on April 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Im
Darroch resigned after the publication of the first batch of leaked documents earlier this week [File: Getty Images]

The United Kingdom‘s former ambassador to Washington said United States President Donald Trump seemed to be pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal for “personality reasons”, as it was signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, according to a British newspaper citing leaked documents.

The report by the Mail on Sunday came days after Kim Darroch was reported to have sent diplomatic cables describing the Trump administration as “inept”, prompting the US president to claim the ambassador was a “pompous fool” whom he would no longer deal with.

Darroch has since resignedsaying it was now “impossible” to do his job.     

“The administration is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons – it was Obama’s deal,”  Darroch wrote in a diplomatic cable in May 2018, the Mail on Sunday reported, as it published the second batch of leaked documents.

‘No long-time strategy’

According to the cables, in May 2018, Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary at the time, went to Washington to try to persuade Trump not to abandon the Iran deal.

Afterwards, Darroch reportedly indicated there were divisions in Trump‘s team over the decision, and criticised the White House for not having a long-term strategy.

“They can’t articulate any ‘day-after’ strategy; and contacts with the State Department this morning suggest no sort of plan for reaching out to partners and allies, whether in Europe or the region,” he wrote.

He reported back that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during his talks with Johnson, “did some subtle distancing by talking throughout about ‘the president’s decision'”.

The newspaper reported that, according to Darroch, Pompeo also hinted that he had tried but failed to “sell” a revised text to Trump.

Police warning

In 2015, when Obama was in power, the US, China, Britain, France, Russia and Germany signed a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for a partial lifting of international economic sanctions.

Trump had long been critical of the deal and unilaterally withdrew the US on May 8, 2018.

Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from London, said the leaks have “rocked the British diplomatic service to its core and driven a significant wedge between the UK and the US”. 

“The latest leaks will also make the job of British diplomats that much more difficult. They have said ‘How can we be able to do our jobs and be candid and honest in the cables we write back to London if those confidential missives get leaked for political reasons?'”

In addition to a government investigation into the leaks, police are also looking into a potential breach of the Official Secrets Act.

London’s Metropolitan Police sparked widespread condemnation on Saturday after warning journalists that publishing leaked documents could be a criminal matter.

Separately, the Sunday Times reported that a government investigation had identified a civil servant as the person responsible for the leak. 

Working with officials from the National Cyber Security Centre, part of spy agency GCHQ, and MI6, the probe has centred on a suspect who had access to historical Foreign Office files, the paper said.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies