190801 Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson Image Credit: Reuters

New York - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it’s time to strike a new nuclear deal with Iran, breaking ranks with European allies France and Germany, which are still trying to preserve the 2015 agreement President Donald Trump withdrew from last year.

“Whatever your objections to the old nuclear deal with Iran, it’s time now to move forward and do a new deal,” Johnson told Sky News on Monday in New York, where he’s attending the United Nations General Assembly.

Johnson also suggested it’s “plainly” clear that Iran was responsible for attacks this month on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, pulling into line with the Trump administration’s assessment. “How do we respond to what the Iranians plainly did?” Johnson said. “What the U.K. is doing is trying to bring people together and de-escalate tensions.”

UK officials sought to moderate Johnson’s comments. “The prime minister supports the JCPOA,” his office said in a statement, referring to the existing Iran deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “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.”

Trump had already expressed delight with Johnson’s remarks, telling reporters, “I respect Boris a lot and I’m not at all surprised he was the first one to come out and see that.” He said Johnson is “a man who, No. 1, he’s a friend of mine, and No. 2, he’s very smart, very tough.”

Macron’s stance

French President Emmanuel Macron said earlier Monday that “the oil attacks change the situation, but France remains just as determined.”

He told reporters at the UN that he’s continuing to work on calming tension between Iran and the US even as he inched closer to saying Iran may have been behind the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities.

“There are indications that a state actor may have been involved, given the sophistication,” Macron said, although he stopped short of saying who was responsible until Saudi Arabia completed its investigation.