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Trump axed Iran deal to spite Obama, says leaked diplomatic cable

Brendan Smialowski, Paul Morigi, AFP, GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA | British Ambassador Kim Darroch (left) and US President Donald Trump (right)

A British newspaper on Sunday published more inflammatory leaked memos from Britain’s ambassador in Washington, stating that he believed that US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal just to spite his predecessor, Barack Obama.


In the 2018 cable, published by the Mail on Sunday, British ambassador Kim Darroch wrote that: "The administration is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons -- it was Obama's deal."

The memo was written after then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited Washington in a failed attempt to persuade the US not to abandon the Iran nuclear agreement.

In a cable sent after that meeting, Darroch reportedly indicated there were divisions in Trump's team over the decision, and criticised the White House for a lack of long-term strategy.

"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," he wrote.

He also reported back that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during his talks with Johnson, "did some subtle distancing by talking throughout about 'the president's decision'".

According to Darroch, Pompeo also hinted that he had tried but failed to "sell" a revised text to Trump.

‘Pompous fool’

Darroch announced his resignation on Wednesday after the newspaper published cables in which he described the Trump administration as “dysfunctional” and “inept”, saying it was now impossible for him to do his job.

Trump branded the ambassador a “pompous fool” in a Twitter fusillade and said the White House would no longer work with Darroch. 

British police are hunting the culprits behind the leak. The UK's Sunday Times reported that a government investigation had identified a civil servant as the person responsible.

Working with officials from the National Cyber Security Centre, part of spy agency GCHQ, and MI6, the probe has reportedly homed in on a suspect who had access to historical Foreign Office files.

Britain’s Official Secrets Act bars public servants from making “damaging” disclosures of classified material. Breaking the act carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison, though prosecutions are rare.

Police warn journalists

British police have also warned journalists that publishing the leaked documents could “constitute a criminal offence”.

Yet both Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, the two contenders to become Britain’s next prime minister, have defended the media’s right to publish.

“We have to make sure that we defend the right of journalists to publish leaks when they are in the national interest,” Hunt said.

The souring of relations between London and Washington comes at a particularly unwelcome time for London, which is mired in the details of how and when to leave the European Union, a departure currently scheduled for October 31.

Britain is hoping to strike a major post-Brexit trade deal with Washington as one of the upsides of leaving the bloc.


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