European Powers Back US in Blaming Iran for Saudi Oil Attack, Urge Broader Talks

UNITED NATIONS—Britain, Germany and France backed the United States and blamed Iran on Monday for an attack on Saudi oil facilities, urging Tehran to agree to new talks with world powers on its nuclear and missile programs and regional security issues.

The Europeans issued a joint statement after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron met at the United Nations on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders.

But Iran ruled out the possibility of negotiating a new deal with powers, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Monday, saying European partners have failed to fulfill their commitments under a 2015 nuclear pact, as Iran had theirs.

European leaders have continued to remain in the pact with Iran after U.S. President Donald Trump quit the deal last year that assured Iran access to world trade in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

But the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran after Trump criticized the nuclear accord, negotiated under then-U.S. President Barack Obama, for “sunset” clauses by which some of its provisions will expire as well as for its failure to address Iran‘s missile program and regional activities in support of extremist groups.

“The time has come for Iran to accept negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear program as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles program and other means of delivery,” Britain, France and Germany said.

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Tension rose on Sept. 14 following an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, which has been blamed on Iran. Tehran denies responsibility, and Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group has said it carried out the attack.

“It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation. We support ongoing investigations to establish further details,” Britain, France, and Germany said.

German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron during a WWI ceremony in France.
German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron during a WWI ceremony in France, on Nov. 10, 2018. (Benoit Tessier/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked the European nations for their statement blaming Iran, saying, “This will strengthen diplomacy and the cause of peace.”

The United States will intensify pressure on Iran, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook said in New York on Monday.

In an interview with U.S. network NBC on Monday, Johnson said Trump was “the one guy who can do a better deal. … I hope there will be a Trump deal.”

By John Irish and Kylie MacLellan. NTD staff contributed to this report.