Administration officials have sought in recent months to play down the nuclear deal and instead build a policy that seeks to confront Tehran’s other activities in the Middle East, including its support for Hezbollah and President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. But Mr. Trump’s repeated denunciations of the accord — he has called it a “disaster,” “the worst deal ever” and “embarrassing to the United States” — have made the pact impossible to ignore.
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After Mr. Trump declared his intention not to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal, a number of proposals began circulating in Congress, ranging from effectively dismantling the agreement to simply ending the requirement that the president certify it every 90 days. Ms. Mogherini acknowledged that the proposed options made this a “delicate moment” but refused to indicate which might violate the Iran accord, saying it was a domestic political matter.
But changing or tinkering with an agreement that she said already permanently bars Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — as Mr. Trump has demanded — was not going to happen, she said. And she emphasized that the deal took nearly 12 years to negotiate and includes 104 pages of extraordinarily technical details that make it unusually powerful.
“If you reopen one part of it, the entire agreement is reopened and you will probably enter into another 12 years of renegotiations,” she said, adding that none of the other parties to the agreement — Britain, France, the European Union, Russia and China — would agree to such a step.
Ms. Mogherini’s statements came in her third visit to Washington this year. On each trip, she has made barbed comments about the current administration, a reflection of widespread unhappiness in Europe with Mr. Trump and his message of “America First.”
On Tuesday, for instance, she noted that the defense of human rights and democracy was a central pillar of the European Union’s foreign policy. “Here, I know, the thinking has gone in a different direction,” she said.
Critics of the Iran nuclear agreement have argued that Mr. Trump’s threat to scuttle it would force Europe to renegotiate its terms — not only in fear that Tehran would pursue nuclear weapons once the United States walked away, but also that American sanctions reimposed in the aftermath would hurt companies in the bloc.
European diplomats have insisted for months that they would not buckle to such pressure from Washington, and Ms. Mogherini repeated that promise.
“We have made it clear that the European Union and its member states will protect European interests,” Ms. Mogherini said. She implied that if the United States imposed sanctions that hurt European companies, the bloc would respond in kind.