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State Dept.: U.S. allies trying to strengthen Iran nuclear deal

By
Hannah Wiley, Medill News Service
Among the topics addressed by President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron during the state visit last week was the Iran nuclear deal. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Among the topics addressed by President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron during the state visit last week was the Iran nuclear deal. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON -- France, Britain and Germany understand the economic consequences if the United States pulls out of the Iran nuclear deal and are working to strengthen the deal, the State Department said Thursday.

President Donald Trump said he does not think the deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, goes far enough in preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapons program. If the United States fails to recertify the deal by the May 12 deadline, the trade sanctions the United States, France, Britain and Germany lifted in exchange for Iran's promise to abandon its program could snap back into place on the U.S. side.

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"We've been clear about the ramifications and the way things would work in that nature," State Department Press Secretary Heather Nauert said at a press briefing.

Nauert said the United States' concerns about the JCPOA "have been heard" by the European leaders, and the countries are collaborating on ways to strengthen the deal.

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Nauert would not comment on the status of Trump's decision on the JCPOA, but said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is working closely with the president to discuss Iran and the two have "had a lot of conversations about this topic in general."

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On the 25th World Press Freedom Day, Nauert also recognized jailed journalists across the world and hailed a free press as an integral pillar in a functioning democracy. Nauert said the department condemns any shutdown of a free press, including in places like Turkey, Nicaragua and Egypt, which lead the world in some of the harshest treatment and punishment of journalists.

On Monday, nine journalists in Afghanistan were killed by an Islamic State suicide bomber and a 10th was killed in the province of Khost.

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Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja was killed during protests along the border between Israel and Palestine on April 6.

Nauert did not initially mention Murtaja but said that Israel has the right to protect its borders. Israel said it opened an investigation into the circumstances of his death and that the Israeli Defense Forces do not intentionally target journalists during military operations.

"We are always saddened by the loss of life," Nauert said. "In terms of Israel, the larger issue is that the violence has to stop, and we understand that Israel has the right to defend itself."

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Along with his talks with Trump on plans to denuclearize Iran and North Korea, Pompeo has begun the process of filling vacant high-level staff positions in the State Department, Nauert said.

According to Nauert, Pompeo has interviewed people throughout the week for various open positions, although she did not specify on how many interviews he has conducted or for what positions.

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