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Oct 18, 7:38 AM EDT

Iran top leader urges Europe to do more to back nuclear deal



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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's supreme leader on Wednesday urged Europe to do more to back the 2015 nuclear deal after President Donald Trump refused to re-certify the pact. European companies have rushed into the Iranian markets since the landmark accord.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments show the supreme leader's hope that he can leverage European business interests into protecting the nuclear deal.

While offering harsh criticism of Trump, Khamenei wants to ensure that Iran continues to have access to the international market for its crude oil as part of efforts to revive its stagnant economy.

"The European governments have underlined the nuclear deal's issue and condemned the U.S. president's remarks," Khamenei said, according to comments posted on his official website. "We welcome this approach but it is not enough that they only tell him not to tear up the deal."

"The nuclear deal is to their benefit", Khamenei said.

Khamenei also said of Trump: "I will not spend time to respond to the nonsensical comments by the foul-mouthed president."

He also warned that if the U.S. tears up the deal, "we will shred it into pieces."

The 2015 deal curbed Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting international sanctions on Iran. In the time since, European firms have re-entered Iran's market.

Among the biggest deals has been with the European aviation consortium Airbus, which signed billions of dollars in sales agreements with the Islamic Republic. France's Total SA and state-run China National Petroleum Corporation signed a $5 billion agreement with Iran to develop the country's massive offshore natural gas field. And French automobile manufacturer Groupe Renault signed a $778 million deal.

Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the European Union - the other parties to the nuclear accord - all have been telling Trump's administration to stay in the deal.

Trump's refusal last week to re-certify the Iran nuclear deal has sparked a new war of words between the Islamic Republic and America, fueling growing mistrust and a sense of nationalism among Iranians. Trump also criticized Europeans for their participation in Iran's energy projects.

Trump said he decertified the accord on the grounds that Iran had committed several violations of the deal but he did not announce a withdrawal from the pact, instead kicking it to Congress for a decision.

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