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Belgian ambassador regrets U.S. withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal

Belgium "deeply" regrets Iran deal withdraw

The Belgian ambassador to the U.S. says his country "deeply" regrets President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. "We deeply regret it, with so many other European countries and other partners in the world who were involved with this effort of getting to that nuclear deal," he told Major Garrett on "The Takeout" podcast this week.

Wouters was personally involved in the first half of the diplomatic effort, which took a dozen years to come to fruition in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

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"We were confident that it could work, not forever, of course, but we organized it in such a way that Iran became the most monitored country in the world," he said of Iran's nuclear freeze.

While Mr. Trump claimed Tuesday that Iran was not in compliance with the agreement, citing Israeli intelligence, Wouters disagreed, telling Garrett that none of the reports showed any infractions.

The deal signed under former President Obama allowed the powers party to it (the U.S., the UK, Russia, China, France, Germany and the rest of the EU) to monitor Iran as it limited its nuclear activities in exchange for lifting economic sanctions against it.

With this, Iran promised not to develop a nuclear weapon and agreed to scale back its uranium enrichment program.

"The strength was that being so close to the development of a nuclear capability, you were able to really organize a very incisive monitoring system with a lot of cameras, and people, and a strong reporting system to the international atomic agency," Wouters said.

Now, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control will reimpose sanctions against Iran, "subject to certain 90 day and 180 day wind-down periods."

While the sanctions concern Wouter, he doubts that Iran would immediately restart its nuclear program, given that all the other parties want to remain in the deal.

But one of the real problems, he suggested, is that Europeans could now harbor doubts about the ability of the U.S. to negotiate denuclearization with North Korea, when the U.S. dropped out of an agreement that Iran was considered to be in compliance with by the other parties in the deal.

"I think as Europeans, we always have the sense that it would be almost incompatible to withdraw from one agreement and then negotiate the same type of agreement with another country," Wouters said. "I mean, that other country would certainly not feel very comfortable about the withdrawal decision."

For more of Major's conversation with Wouters, download "The Takeout" podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify. New episodes are available every Friday morning.

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