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New leak claims Trump scrapped Iran nuclear deal ‘to spite Obama’

Donald Trump abandoned the Iran nuclear deal to spite Barack Obama, according to a leaked memo written by the UK’s former ambassador to the US.

Sir Kim Darroch described the move as an act of “diplomatic vandalism”, according to the Mail on Sunday.

The paper says the memo was written after the then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appealed to the US in 2018 to stick with the nuclear deal.

The latest leak came despite the Met Police warning against publication.

The first memos criticising Trump’s administration, which emerged a week ago, prompted a furious reaction from the US president and resulted in Sir Kim resigning from his role.

In the Mail’s most recent revelation, it reports Sir Kim wrote that Republican President Trump appeared to be abandoning the nuclear deal for “personality reasons” because the pact had been agreed by his Democrat predecessor, Barack Obama.

Under the deal, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

However, President Trump said he did not think that the deal went far enough and reinstated US sanctions after withdrawing from the deal in May 2018.

The British ambassador is said to have highlighted splits amongst US presidential advisors and that the White House did not have a “day-to-day” strategy of what to do following withdrawal from the deal.

President Donald Trump and Sir Kim Darroch
Image captionMr Trump had said we would “no longer deal with” Sir Kim Darroch

The paper reports that Sir Kim wrote a memo to Mr Johnson, saying: “The outcome illustrated the paradox of this White House: you got exceptional access, seeing everyone short of the president; but on the substance, the administration is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons – it was Obama’s deal.

“Moreover, they can’t articulate any ‘day-after’ strategy; and contacts with State Department this morning suggest no sort of plan for reaching out to partners and allies, whether in Europe or the region.”

Police launched a criminal investigation into the origins of the first leak with Scotland Yard’s Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu saying there was a “clear public interest” in bringing those responsible to justice.

The latest disclosure comes despite a warning from Scotland Yard to media about publishing leaked diplomatic memos.

The warning prompted a backlash from newspaper editors and MPs, who defended the freedom of the press.

The Met Police released a second statement suggesting journalists who released further details of the former ambassador’s communications could be in breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Media captionTrump: ‘I wish the British ambassador well’

The first leaked emails saw the then UK ambassador refer to the Trump administration as “clumsy and inept”. The US president responded by calling Sir Kim as “a very stupid guy” with whom he would no longer deal.

The government launched an internal Whitehall inquiry into the leak.

But Sir Kim stepped down as US ambassador on Wednesday, saying it was “impossible” for him to continue.

Paper defends stance

The Mail on Sunday has defended its decisions to publish further details from the memos.

A spokesman for the newspaper said it was in the public interest and revealed “important information” on the UK’s attempts to stop President Trump abandoning the Iran nuclear deal.

He added: “What could be more in the public interest than a better understanding of how this position was reached, which may have serious consequences for world peace?”

In response, a Foreign Office spokesman called it a “totally unacceptable leak” of “sensitive material” and called for the source of the leak to “face the consequences of their actions”.

He added that it was “not news” that the UK and US differ in their approach to preventing Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Media captionBoris Johnson on Sir Kim Darroch

‘Disgraceful treatment’

British civil service union leaders have called the episode “part of a wider culture of abusing civil servants which has been allowed to develop over the last few years.”

In a letter to the Observer, the heads of the Prospect and FDA unions, which represent tens of thousands of civil servants, said Sir Kim’s “disgraceful” treatment followed briefings against officials amid “sustained attacks from across the political spectrum”.

Sir Nigel Sheinwald, who was UK ambassador to the US from 2007 to 2012, told the paper he suspected that whoever was behind the leak has “a wider target of our system of public service”.

He suggested the motive could have been trying to influence the succession of Sir Kim, as well as “influence the way the next government handled the civil service”.

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