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French President Emmanuel Macron

Macron Rejects Trump’s Iran Strategy at UN Security Council

U.S. President Donald Trump started a special session of the UN Security Council on Wednesday by defending his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and ratchet up sanctions on the Islamic Republic, but that move drew quick criticism from one of America’s closest allies.

Hosting a Security Council meeting he requested, Trump reiterated his view that the 2015 nuclear agreement was a “horrible, one-sided deal,” and said that oil sanctions targeting Iranian oil sales in November will be followed by additional measures that will be “tougher than ever before.”

Yet immediately following Trump’s comments in the Security Council chambers, French President Emmanuel Macron said the U.S. approach to Iran was inadequate.

“We are all united around this table that Iran must not be able to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” said Macron, sitting just a few feet away from Trump. But, he added, “sanctions and containment” are not sufficient.

Pressuring Iran has become the centerpiece of the Trump administration’s efforts at the UN General Assembly this week in New York. The president and his top aides have repeatedly directed their criticism at Iran’s role in Yemen and Syria, its sponsorship of terrorism and its efforts to continue developing ballistic missiles.

At the UN podium on Tuesday, Trump said his decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran was a popular move in the Middle East and he charged that Iran’s leaders “sow chaos, death and destruction” as he called on the rest of the world to join his administration’s “economic pressure” offensive against the nation. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in turn, used his speech at the UN to accuse Trump of “economic terrorism” and an “authoritarian” approach to international relations.

Bolstering Rouhani, the U.S. withdrawal from the accord has been roundly condemned by America’s allies and rivals in the rest of the world. Foreign ministers from France, the U.K., China, Russia and the EU all met on Monday night to discuss ways to keep the nuclear deal alive.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said after the meeting that the European Union will establish a mechanism to protect European companies’ financial dealings with Iran from the impact of U.S. sanctions in a bid to keep Iranian nuclear agreement alive. That move drew heavy criticism from U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who said Tuesday he found their efforts “counterproductive.”

By Jennifer Epstein and Gregory Viscusi

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