U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has called on European allies to renounce a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
'The time has come for our European partners to stand with us and with the Iranian people,' Pence said on February 15 at the Munich Security Conference in Germany. 'The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.'
Under the agreement, major world powers agreed to provide sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for restrictions on Iran's nuclear program.
The United States withdrew from the agreement last year and began reimposing sanctions. U.S. President Donald Trump has said the agreement was 'fatally flawed' because it did not address Iran's ballistic-missile program or Iran's alleged state sponsorship of terrorism.
The other signatories to the agreement -- France, Germany, Britain, the European Union, Russia, and China -- have all been working to save the agreement.
Pence's comments came just moments after German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the agreement in her comments to the Munich conference. She called the pact an 'anchor' that allows the West to exert pressure on Tehran.
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Pence also urged NATO members to boost defense spending to levels previously agreed.
Pence also called on Europe to recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the leader of his country.
'All of us must stand with the Venezuelan people until freedom and democracy is fully restored,' Pence said.
Guaido declared himself president of Venezuela in January after President Nicolas Maduro refused to hold early elections.
The U.S. vice president also warned of a security threat from the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, saying it 'provides Beijing's vast security apparatus with access to any data that touches their network or equipment.'
'America is calling on all our security partners to be vigilant and to reject any enterprise that would compromise the integrity of our communications technology or our national security systems,' Pence said.
Commenting after Pence's speech, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the TASS news agency that the United States did not take into consideration the consequences of many of its international actions.
'The end of the speech makes it clear that the U.S. side is aimed at pursuing its agenda, mindless of any expenses, any devastating consequences for the global security system,' he said.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, TASS, and AFP RFE/RL
RFE/RL journalists report the news in 25 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.
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