Oct 18, 9:49 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, which lifted international sanctions in exchange for restrictions on Iran's nuclear program.

"The European governments have underlined the nuclear deal's issue and condemned the U.S. president's remarks," Ayatollah Ali 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 responding to the nonsensical comments by the foul-mouthed president." He also referred to Trump and his administration as being "mentally retarded."

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

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

Since the nuclear accord, European aviation consortium Airbus has signed billions of dollars in sales agreements with Iran. 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 agreement has sparked a new war of words between Iran and the United States, fueling growing mistrust and a sense of nationalism among Iranians. Trump also criticized Europeans for their participation in Iran's energy projects.

Trump has yet to announce a withdrawal from the pact, instead kicking it to Congress for a decision.

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