- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2019

President Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the multinational Iran nuclear deal is the root cause of heightened military tensions with Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Wednesday as he urged leaders in Tehran to continue abiding by the agreement.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Mr. Putin said that Iran risks ramping up the possibility of military conflict if it scraps key portions of the Obama-era nuclear deal. Iranian officials said last week that if the world community doesn’t rework the agreement within 60 days, then they will begin enriching uranium to near-weapons-grade levels.

“I have repeatedly said in conversations with Iranian partners that, in my opinion, it would be more rational for Iran to remain in this treaty, no matter what,” Mr. Putin said, as quoted by Sputnik News. “Because as soon as Iran takes the first steps in response, declares that it is withdrawing, tomorrow everyone will forget that the United States was the initiator of the destruction, and everything will be blamed on Iran.”

Mr. Putin, who met earlier this week with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Sochi, said Russia stands behind the agreement but that the heaviest burden to save the deal and avoid war lies with the U.S.

“We cannot rescue everything,” Mr. Putin said. “Especially when it depends on others as well. We did our part. We are ready to continue playing a positive role.”

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