Putin says US exit from Iran deal could trigger instability

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Friday that the U.S. exit from the Iranian nuclear deal could trigger dangerous instability and raise new threats for Israel if Tehran resumes a full-fledged nuclear program.

“We can’t sort things out with North Korea. Do we want another problem on the same scale?” Putin asked at a business forum.

The Russian leader said the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 agreement came even as the international nuclear watchdog confirmed that Tehran was fulfilling its obligations. “What should it be punished for, then?” Putin asked.

President Donald Trump’s administration has demanded that Iran stop the enrichment of uranium and end its involvement in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan in order to negotiate a new deal.

Putin underlined that former President Barack Obama’s administration played the key role in negotiating the Iran deal, and he emphasized that the drastic shift in U.S. policy highlighted risks for global stability.

“If international agreements are revised every four years it would offer zero horizon for planning,” Putin said. “It will create the atmosphere of nervousness and lack of trust.”

While Israel hailed the U.S. withdrawal, Putin warned that the move could eventually hurt Israeli security if the deal completely falls apart.

The Iran deal was the first time Russia, France, Germany and others had agreed on a major international issue since relations between Russia and the West chilled over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Moscow’s hopes for better ties with Washington under Trump have fizzled amid investigations into alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Speaking at the panel, Putin again denied any meddling in the U.S. election in 2016.

The Russian leader also engaged in a tongue-in-cheek exchange with French President Emmanuel Macron, saying with a smile that Russia could help protect Europe if its rift with the U.S. widens over Iran.

“Don’t you worry, we will help ensure your security,” Putin said. Macron responded on a serious note that France and its allies could stand for themselves.

In his speech at the forum and during talks with Putin on Thursday, Macron called for closer ties between France and Russia despite their differences.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also spoke at the forum and called for closer cooperation with Russia.

The presence of Macron and Abe and their statements in favor of cooperation with Moscow were important for Putin, indicating that the U.S.-led efforts to isolate Russia face increasing obstacles.

Russia-U.S. ties also have been strained over the Ukrainian crisis and the war in Syria. The U.S. and its allies have hit Russia with several waves of sanctions that badly hurt its economy.

Putin sharply criticized the sanctions, saying they signal “not just erosion but the dismantling of a system of multilateral cooperation that took decades to build.” He said economic restrictions have become a political instrument used to “suppress the competition or extract concessions.”

“It’s like playing soccer according to judo rules,” said Putin, a judo expert. “It means chaos, and it’s where we are heading. The new rule is the absence of rules.”

This article provided by NewsEdge.