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President Trump Withdraw from Nuclear Accord with Iran - History

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May 8, 2018

President Trump Withdraw from Nuclear Accord with Iran

Trumps and Netanyahu's

On May 8th four days before his self-imposed deadline, President Trump announced he was removing the US from the international agreement that slowed the Iranian nuclear program. Trump acted against the advice of almost all of the US allies with the exception of Israel. Trump had called the agreement a terrible agreement and pledged to end it. He kept his campaign promise by ending the agreement and reimposing sanction on Iran, demanding that they agree to a much stricter agreement than the one that they signed..



US President Donald Trump announced that the US is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal Tuesday.

The President made the announcement during a press conference at the White House.

Trump called the 2015 agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) an "embarrassment" that "should never have been reached."

"After the sanctions were lifted, the dictatorship used its new funds to build nuclear capable missiles, support terrorism, and cause havoc throughout the Middle East and beyond."

Trump criticized the JCPOA's sunset provisions. "The agreement was so poorly negotiated that even if Iran fully complies, the regime can still be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in just a short period of time. The deal's sunset provisions are totally unacceptable."

He also stated that that deal's inspection provisions are too weak and that it failed to constrain Iran's ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism.

Trump cited Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Neyanyahu's presentation of Iran's nuclear archive last week as proof that Iran cannot be trusted to abide by its commitments under the JCPOA or to abandon its desire to develop nuclear weapons.

"Last week, Israel published intelligence documents long concealed by Iran conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons."

He said that the US would reinstate sanctions on Iran. "We will be instituting the highest level of nuclear sanctions."

"We will not allow American citizens to be threatened with destruction, and we will not allow a regime that chants 'death to America' to gain access to the most deadly weapons on Earth."


President Trump withdraws US from Iran nuclear deal

WASHINGTON - (AP) — President Donald Trump announced Tuesday the U.S. will pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran, declaring he&aposs making the world safer but dealing a profound blow to allies and deepening the president&aposs isolation on the world stage.

"The United States does not make empty threats," he said in a televised address from the White House Diplomatic Room.

Trump said the 2015 agreement, which included Germany, France and Britain, was a "horrible one-sided deal that should never ever have been made." He added that the United States "will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction."

Trump&aposs decision means Iran&aposs government must now decide whether to follow the U.S. and withdraw or try to salvage what&aposs left of the deal. Iran has offered conflicting statements about what it may do — and the answer may depend on exactly how Trump exits the agreement.

One official briefed on the decision said Trump would move to reimpose all sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 deal, not just the ones facing an immediate deadline.

Supporters of trying to fix the agreement had hoped Trump would choose a piecemeal approach that could leave more room for him to reverse himself and stay in if he could secure the additional restrictions on Iran that European nations have tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with Trump. Still, the administration planned to allow a grace period of at least three months and possibly up to six months so that businesses and governments can wind down operations that would violate the reimposed U.S. sanctions, officials said.

As administration officials briefed congressional leaders about Trump&aposs plans Tuesday, they emphasized that just as with a major Asia trade deal and the Paris climate pact that Trump has abandoned, he remains open to renegotiating a better deal, one person briefed on the talks said.

The Iran agreement, struck in 2015 by the United States, other world powers and Iran, lifted most U.S. and international sanctions against the country. In return, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program making it impossible to produce a bomb, along with rigorous inspections.

In a burst of last-minute diplomacy, punctuated by a visit by Britain&aposs top diplomat, the deal&aposs European members gave in to many of Trump&aposs demands, according to officials, diplomats and others briefed on the negotiations. Yet they still left convinced he was likely to re-impose sanctions.

Trump spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese leader Xi Jinping about his decision Tuesday. The British foreign secretary traveled to Washington this week to make a last-minute pitch to the U.S. to remain in the deal, according to a senior British diplomat. The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the British objective will remain to uphold and maintain the deal.

Hours before the announcement, European countries met to underline their support for the agreement. Senior officials from Britain, France and Germany met in Brussels with Iran&aposs Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Abbas Araghchi.

If the deal collapses, Iran would be free to resume prohibited enrichment activities, while businesses and banks doing business with Iran would have to scramble to extricate themselves or run afoul of the U.S. American officials were dusting off plans for how to sell a pullout to the public and explain its complex financial ramifications.

In Iran, many were deeply concerned about how Trump&aposs decision could affect the already struggling economy. In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani sought to calm nerves, smiling as he appeared at a petroleum expo. He didn&apost name Trump directly, but emphasized that Iran continued to seek "engagement with the world."

"It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this," Rouhani said.

Under the most likely scenario, Trump would allow sanctions on Iran&aposs central bank — intended to target oil exports — to kick back in, rather than waiving them once again on Saturday, the next deadline for renewal, said individuals briefed on Trump&aposs deliberations. Then the administration would give those who are doing business with Iran a six-month period to wind down business and avoid breaching those sanctions.

Depending on how Trump sells it — either as an irreversible U.S. pullout, or one final chance to save it — the deal could be strengthened during those six months in a last-ditch effort to persuade Trump to change his mind. The first 15 months of Trump&aposs presidency have been filled with many such "last chances" for the Iran deal in which he&aposs punted the decision for another few months, and then another.

Even Trump&aposs secretary of state and the U.N. agency that monitors nuclear compliance agree that Iran, so far, has lived up to its side of the deal. But the deal&aposs critics, such as Israel, the Gulf Arab states and many Republicans, say it&aposs a giveaway to Tehran that ultimately paves the path to a nuclear-armed Iran several years in the future.

Iran, for its part, has been coy in predicting its response to a Trump withdrawal. For weeks, Iran&aposs foreign minister had been saying that a re-imposition of U.S. sanctions would render the deal null and void, leaving Tehran little choice but to abandon it as well. But on Monday, Rouhani said Iran could stick with it if the European Union, whose economies do far more business with Iran than the U.S., offers guarantees that Iran would keep benefiting.

For the Europeans, Trump&aposs withdrawal constitutes dispiriting proof that trying to appease him is futile.


The controversy surrounding the Iran deal, explained

Iran and the US have been enemies for decades. The two countries have an extremely complex history that involved a CIA-orchestrated coup in the 1950s, a pro-American puppet monarch who was overthrown in 1979 via the Islamic revolution, and the infamous hostage crisis at the US embassy in Tehran that followed the uprising.

The constant threats from Iranian leaders against Israel, America's top ally in the Middle East, and chants of "death to America" in Iranian streets have also not helped matters.

In this context, there is a massive distrust for Iran in the US (and vice versa), and Washington has long feared what might happen if the Iranian regime developed a nuclear weapon. Iran made great strides in this regard by the 2010s, hence the Obama administration's efforts to orchestrate the nuclear deal. When the pact was finally settled in 2015, it was widely celebrated as a major diplomatic achievement.

But many (primarily conservative) leaders in Washington still felt the Iran nuclear deal didn't go far enough to limit the country's ability to develop nuclear weapons.

This is because the Iran deal contains sunset clauses, or parts of the agreement that will ultimately expire. Under the deal, the restrictions on Iran's centrifuges go away after 10 years (in 2025) and the limitations on uranium enrichment disappear five years after that (2030). Hence, some feared that once these restrictions expire, Iran could rapidly develop a nuclear weapon.

"It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement," Trump said in May 2018. "The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing we know exactly what will happen."

More broadly, Trump, among others, argued the deal didn't do enough to address Iran's regional behavior or its missile program.

The US has also faced pressure to avoid engagement with Iran from its top ally in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also been a vocal opponent of the deal, and has urged against its restoration.

Saudi Arabia, a close security partner of the US that also views Iran as a threat, has also criticized the deal and urged the US to consult the Gulf states in any efforts to revive the accord.


Trump Withdraws U.S. From Iran Accord

Michael C. Bender

Michael R. Gordon

Rebecca Ballhaus

WASHINGTON—The U.S. is exiting the Iranian nuclear accord, President Donald Trump said Tuesday, dismantling his predecessor’s most prominent foreign-policy initiative and bucking the appeals of some of America’s closest allies.

Speaking in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, Mr. Trump delivered harsh words about the 2015 deal to curb and monitor Iran’s nuclear activity, calling it “horrible,” “one-sided” and “disastrous.” The president said he planned to institute sanctions against Iran, and said the U.S. would sanction any nation that helps Tehran pursue nuclear weapons, as well as U.S. and foreign companies and banks that continue to do business with the country.

After an 11-minute televised speech explaining his decision, Mr. Trump sat down at a desk and signed an order withdrawing the U.S. from the pact as Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and national security adviser John Bolton looked on from across the room.

Administration officials said the Iran sanctions suspended under the agreement snapped immediately back into effect, meaning any new contracts and financial deals are banned. They said businesses and banks have either 90 or 180 days to wind down existing ties, depending on the particular type of transaction.

While it pleased Israel and Saudi Arabia, Mr. Trump’s decision injected a new source of strain into tense trans-Atlantic ties. In a strongly worded joint statement, the leaders of Britain, France and Germany rejected the president’s conclusion, announced they were still committed to the nuclear agreement and urged Iran to stay in compliance.

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Iran nuclear deal hangs in balance as Islamic Republic votes

FILE - In this April 10, 2021 file photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, second right, listens to head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi while visiting an exhibition of Iran's new nuclear achievements in Tehran, Iran. As Iran prepares to vote Friday, June 18, 2021 for a new president, its tattered nuclear deal for world powers hangs in the balance as diplomats try to find a way to get both the U.S. and Tehran to reenter the accord. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP, File)

DUBAI – Iran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers hangs in the balance as the country prepares to vote on Friday for a new president and diplomats press on with efforts to get both the U.S. and Tehran to reenter the accord.

The deal represents the signature accomplishment of the relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani's eight years in office: suspending crushing sanctions in exchange for the strict monitoring and limiting of Iran's uranium stockpile.

The deal's collapse with President Donald Trump's decision to unilaterally withdraw America from the agreement in 2018 spiraled into a series of attacks and confrontations across the wider Middle East. It also prompted Tehran to enrich uranium to highest purity levels so far, just shy of weapons-grade levels.

With analysts and polling suggesting that a hard-line candidate already targeted by U.S. sanctions will win Friday's vote, a return to the deal may be possible but it likely won't lead to a further detente between Iran and the West.

"It’s certainly not as complex as drafting a deal from scratch, which is what the sides did that resulted in the 2015 deal," said Henry Rome, a senior analyst focusing on Iran at the Eurasia Group. “But there’s still a lot of details that need to be worked out.”

He added: “I think there’s a lot of domestic politics that go into this and an interest from hard-liners, including the supreme leader, to ensure that their favored candidate wins without any significant disruptions to that process.”

The 2015 deal, which saw Iranians flood into the streets in celebration, marked a major turn after years of tensions between Iran and the West over Iran's nuclear program. Tehran has long insisted that its program is for peaceful purposes. However, U.S. intelligence agencies and International Atomic Energy Agency say Iran pursued an organized nuclear weapons program up until 2003.

In order to ease the threat seen by the West, Iran agreed under the deal to limit its enrichment of uranium gas to just 3.67% purity, which can be used in nuclear power plants but is far below weapons-grade levels of 90%. It also put a hard cap on Iran's uranium stockpile to just 300 kilograms (661 pounds). Tehran also committed to using only 5,060 of its first-generation centrifuges, the devices that spin the uranium gas to enrich it.

Before the deal, Iran had been enriching up to 20% and had a stockpile of some 10,000 kilograms (22,046 pounds). That amount at that enrichment level narrowed Iran's so-called “breakout” time — how long it would take for Tehran to be able to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one atomic bomb.

Prior to the deal, experts estimated Iran needed two to three months to reach that point. Under the deal, officials put that period at around a year. The deal also subjected Iran to some of the most-stringent monitoring ever by the IAEA to monitor its program and ensure its compliance.

What the deal didn't do, however, was involve Iran's ballistic missile program or Tehran's support of militant groups around the region — such as the Lebanese Hezbollah or the Palestinian Hamas — that the West and its allies have designated terrorist organizations. At the time, the Obama administration suggested further negotiations could spring from the deal. However, Trump entered the White House on a promise to “tear up” the accord in part over that, which he ultimately did in 2018.

In the time since, Iran has broken all the limits it agreed to under the deal. It now enriches small amounts of uranium up to 63% purity. It spins far-more advanced centrifuges. The IAEA hasn't been able to access its surveillance cameras at Iranian nuclear sites since late February, nor data from its online enrichment monitors and electronic seals — hobbling the U.N. nuclear watchdog's monitoring abilities. Iran also restarted enrichment at a hardened underground facility and is building more centrifuge halls underground, after two attacks suspected to have been carried out by Israel.

If Iran's nuclear program remains unchecked, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned it could shrink Tehran's “breakout” time down to “a matter of weeks.” That has worried nonproliferation experts.

“I think for the international community — and specifically for the United States — putting the nuclear program back into a box is critical," said Sanam Vakil, the deputy head of Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa program who studies Iran. "It’s important because beyond the nuclear agreement, the negotiators are ultimately hoping to lengthen and strengthen the deal. And so you can’t even get there until the current deal is stabilized.”

Since President Joe Biden took office, his diplomats have been working with other world powers to come up with a way to return both the U.S. and Iran to the deal in negotiations in Vienna. There have been no direct U.S.-Iran in those negotiations, though separate talks have been underway involving a possible prisoner swap.

In Friday's presidential election in Iran, hard-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi appears to be the front-runner. He's already said he wants to return Iran to the nuclear deal to take advantage of its economic benefits. But given his previous belligerent statements toward the U.S., further cooperation with the West at the moment appears unlikely.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear when a deal will be reached in Vienna. And while Iran has broken through all the accord's limits, there's still more it could do to increase pressure on the West. Those steps could include using more centrifuges, further increasing enrichment, restarting a facility that makes plutonium as a byproduct or abandoning a nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

“It’s a very fine tool,” Rome said. "The Iranian political leadership can decide quite specifically what type of signal it wants to send, whether that’s the type of machines it uses, the speed of the production, the quantity of the production in order to send a message to the West about the degree of pressure it wants to put on.”

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


Trump says he's withdrawing US for Iran nuclear accord

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump announced Tuesday the U.S. will pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran, dealing a profound blow to U.S. allies and potentially deepening the president's isolation on the world stage.

"The United States does not make empty threats," he said in a televised address.

Trump's decision means Iran's government must now decide whether to follow the U.S. and withdraw or try to salvage what's left of the deal. Iran has offered conflicting statements about what it may do - and the answer may depend on exactly how Trump exits the agreement.

Trump said he would move to re-impose all sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 deal, not just the ones facing an immediate deadline. This had become known informally as the "nuclear option" because of the near-certainty that such a move would scuttle the deal.

Supporters of fixing the agreement had hoped Trump would choose a piecemeal approach that could leave more room for him to reverse himself and stay in the deal if he could secure the additional restrictions that European nations tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with him.

Still, the administration planned to allow a grace period of at least three months and possibly up to six months so that businesses and governments can wind down operations that will violate the re-imposed U.S. sanctions.

A slower withdrawal process could allow more room for Trump to reverse course later and decide to stay - if he secures the additional restrictions on Iran that European nations tried unsuccessfully to negotiate to prevent him from withdrawing. Indeed, as administration officials briefed congressional leaders about Trump's plans Tuesday, they emphasized that just as with a major Asia trade deal and the Paris climate pact that Trump has abandoned, he remains open to renegotiating a better deal, one person briefed on the talks said.

The agreement, struck in 2015 by the United States, other world powers and Iran, lifted most U.S. and international sanctions against the country. In return, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program making it impossible to produce a bomb, along with rigorous inspections.

In a burst of last-minute diplomacy, punctuated by a visit by Britain's top diplomat, the deal's European members gave in to many of Trump's demands, according to officials, diplomats and others briefed on the negotiations. Yet they still left convinced he was likely to re-impose sanctions.

Macron was to have a conference call with British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel about half an hour before Trump's announcement.

Trump spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese leader Xi Jinping about his decision Tuesday. Macron vigorously supports the deal and tried to persuade Trump to stay committed to it during a visit to Washington last month.

The British Foreign Secretary traveled to Washington this week to make a last-minute pitch to the U.S. to remain in the deal, according to a senior British diplomat. The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the British objective will remain to uphold and maintain the deal.

Hours before the announcement, European countries met to underline their support for the agreement. Senior officials from Britain, France and Germany met in Brussels with Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Abbas Araghchi.

If the deal collapses, Iran would be free to resume prohibited enrichment activities, while businesses and banks doing business with Iran would have to scramble to extricate themselves or run afoul of the U.S. American officials were dusting off plans for how to sell a pullout to the public and explain its complex financial ramifications, said U.S. officials and others, who weren't authorized to speak ahead of an announcement and requested anonymity.

Building up anticipation, Trump announced on Twitter he would disclose his decision at 2 p.m. at the White House.

In Iran, many were deeply concerned about how Trump's decision could affect the already struggling economy. In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani sought to calm nerves, smiling as he appeared at a petroleum expo. He didn't name Trump directly, but emphasized that Iran continued to seek "engagement with the world."

"It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this," Rouhani said.

Under the most likely scenario, Trump would allow sanctions on Iran's central bank - intended to target oil exports - to kick back in, rather than waiving them once again on Saturday, the next deadline for renewal, said individuals briefed on Trump's deliberations. Then the administration would give those who are doing business with Iran a six-month period to wind down business and avoid breaching those sanctions.

Depending on how Trump sells it - either as an irreversible U.S. pullout, or one final chance to save it - the deal could be strengthened during those six months in a last-ditch effort to persuade Trump to change his mind. The first 15 months of Trump's presidency have been filled with many such "last chances" for the Iran deal in which he's punted the decision for another few months, and then another.

Other U.S. sanctions don't require a decision until later, including those on specific Iranian businesses, sectors and individuals that will snap back into place in July unless Trump signs another waiver. A move on Tuesday to restore those penalties ahead of the deadline would be the most aggressive move Trump could take to close the door to staying in the deal.

Even Trump's secretary of state and the U.N. agency that monitors nuclear compliance agree that Iran, so far, has lived up to its side of the deal. But the deal's critics, such as Israel, the Gulf Arab states and many Republicans, say it's a giveaway to Tehran that ultimately paves the path to a nuclear-armed Iran several years in the future.

Iran, for its part, has been coy in predicting its response to a Trump withdrawal. For weeks, Iran's foreign minister had been saying that a re-imposition of U.S. sanctions would render the deal null and void, leaving Tehran little choice but to abandon it as well. But on Monday, Rouhani said Iran could stick with it if the European Union, whose economies do far more business with Iran than the U.S., offers guarantees that Iran would keep benefiting.

For the Europeans, a Trump withdrawal would also constitute dispiriting proof that trying to appease him is futile.

The three EU members of the deal - Britain, France and Germany - were insistent from the start that it could not be re-opened. But they agreed to discuss an "add-on" agreement that wouldn't change the underlying nuclear deal, but would add new restrictions on Iran to address what Trump had identified as its shortcomings. Trump wanted to deter Iran's ballistic missile program and other destabilizing actions in the region. He also wanted more rigorous nuclear inspections and an extension of restrictions on Iranian enrichment and reprocessing rather than letting them phase out after about a decade.

Negotiating an add-on agreement, rather than revising the existing deal, had the added benefit of not requiring the formal consent of Iran or the other remaining members: Russia and China. The idea was that even if they balked at the West's impositions, Iran would be likely to comply anyway so as to keep enjoying lucrative sanctions relief.

Although the U.S. and Europeans made progress on ballistic missiles and inspections, there were disagreements over extending the life of the deal and how to trigger additional penalties if Iran were found violating the new restrictions, U.S. officials and European diplomats have said. The Europeans agreed to yet more concessions in the final days of negotiating ahead of Trump's decision, the officials added.

Click here for more stories and videos about President Donald Trump.


Shredding the Obama legacy

Mr Trump has, at times, framed his opposition to the Iran deal on very personal terms. He has repeatedly mocked former Secretary of State John Kerry, one of the architects of the agreement, including cracks about a bicycle accident that left him with a broken leg.

According to one report, Mr Kerry's efforts to reach out to Iranians in recent days helped push the president further toward abandoning the deal. The president tweeted about it earlier on Tuesday, so the topic was certainly on his mind.

"John Kerry can't get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it!" Trump wrote. "Stay away from negotiations John, you are hurting your country!"

Since his inauguration, Mr Trump has taken aim at practically every one of his predecessor's signature achievements.

Within a week of his inauguration he had pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.

In June he announced his intent to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation.

He also unwound Obama-era protections for some undocumented immigrants.

He, and Republicans in Congress, made repealing the Affordable Care Act, which increased government regulation of health insurance markets, a central (albeit largely unsuccessful) focus of his first-year legislative agenda.

He's re-imposed sanctions and travel restrictions on Cuba, rescinded proposed controls on power-plant emissions, fuel efficiency standards for new cars and other environmental regulations, and backed repeal of some Obama-era controls on financial institutions.

"With the Paris climate deal dead, the Iran nuclear deal on life support, and Obamacare eviscerated, Obama's only real legacy at this point is the presidency of Donald Trump," writes Sean Davis of the conservative website The Federalist.

And that, it seems, is just the way Mr Trump wants it.


Lawmakers once opposed to the Iran deal now blast Trump's decision to withdraw

President Trump made an announcement from the White House, keeping his campaign promise, that the United States would withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal. John Fritze reports. USA TODAY

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is questioned by reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington April 19, 2018. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, AP)

WASHINGTON — The Iran nuclear accord was never wildly popular on Capitol Hill, but President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the pact Tuesday gave it a boost among congressional Democrats and even a handful of Republicans.

Most Democrats — even those who were critical of the agreement when it was first unveiled in 2015 — argued Trump’s move would severely undermine America’s credibility across the world and weaken the president’s hand as he tries to negotiate a similar denuclearization deal with North Korea.

Most Republicans used Trump’s decision to reiterate their longstanding antipathy toward the Obama-era deal, even though the move threatened to alienate key American allies and the president offered little clarity on how the U.S. would now prevent Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Only a handful of GOP lawmakers broke partisan ranks to say Trump’s move was ill-advised.

“I think it’s a mistake to leave,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who often disagrees with his party on national security matters. Paul said it will signal to the North Koreans “that we’re not so reliable” just as Trump tries to forge an agreement with that rogue country to denuclearize.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., also questioned Trump’s decision, saying he was no fan of the Iran deal but it made no sense to pull out now.

“Iran has already realized the benefits, which were front-loaded in terms of sanctions relief” and the release frozen assets, Flake said. “Now, by our unilateral exit it would give them license to renege on the nuclear aspects of the deal . That just doesn’t make sense to me.”

The Iran deal was negotiated by top Obama administration officials along with England, Germany, France, China and Russia. The agreement barred Iran from producing enough material for an atomic weapon for at least 10 years and imposed provisions for inspections of Iranian facilities, including military sites. In exchange, the United States and its allies agreed to lift global sanctions that had crippled Iran's economy.

Most Republicans said the agreement would never have prevented Iran from getting a nuclear weapon anyway. And by withdrawing, they argued, Trump would signal a harder line on Iran’s other nefarious activities, including its meddling in Syria and its support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah.

“This agreement has not worked,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a member of the GOP leadership who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Their behavior all over the world has been worse, not better, since the agreement was entered into.”

Blunt shrugged off a question about whether he was concerned that the U.S. was acting unilaterally and in defiance of key allies who pleaded with Trump to stick with the deal and try to strengthen it.

“We don’t need to be party to a deal that ensures that Iran could have a nuclear weapon in the next decade,” Blunt said.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said the decision doesn’t send a “bad signal” to allies.

“It sends the signal that we’re not stupid, the American people aren’t stupid,” Kennedy said.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took a more cautious line — suggesting Trump was still committed to some future unspecified negotiations.

“It is disappointing that the administration was unable to reach an agreement with our allies, specifically to remedy the ‘sunset’ provisions that allow Tehran to significantly ramp up its nuclear enrichment activity less than a decade from now,” Corker said in a statement after Trump’s announcement. “However, based on conversations I have had in recent days, it is my sense that the administration will move quickly to work toward a better deal.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., praised Trump’s decision while also hinting that he hoped Trump would keep talking to U.S. allies about a way forward.

“There will now be an implementation period for applying sanctions on Iran,” Ryan said. “During that time, it is my hope that the United States will continue to work with our allies to achieve consensus on addressing a range of destabilizing Iranian behavior — both nuclear and non-nuclear."

Democrats said Trump’s gave up his leverage in any future negotiations and slammed the president for shunning America’s allies in the pact.

“To me, the greatest worries from Iran are not right now on the nuclear side, but what they’re doing in Syria, what they’re doing to arm Hezbollah with rockets, what they’re doing with” ballistic missiles, said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer of New York.

Schumer opposed the deal three years ago but said it's a mistake to walk away now.

“The right thing to do would have been to try to come up, with our allies, with an agreement on those issues and let the nuclear part of this continue as it is, because it’s not being violated in any way,” he argued.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., another member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Trump has opened the possibility of a military conflict with Iran.

“We are dealing with one tough nuclear issue in the world right now with North Korea. He will basically potentially get us into another difficult nuclear challenge because Iran might decide, if the U.S. is out of the deal, that they would want to start moving back towards a nuclear weapons program,” Kaine said.

“The first sentence of the first paragraph of the deal is that Iran reaffirms it will never seek to purchase, acquire, develop nuclear weapons,” Kaine added. “Why would the president want to let them out of that obligation? It’s beyond me.”


President Trump announces US withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump announced Tuesday the U.S. will pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran, declaring he&aposs making the world safer but dealing a profound blow to allies and deepening the president&aposs isolation on the world stage.

"The United States does not make empty threats," he said in a televised address from the White House Diplomatic Room.

President Trump said the 2015 agreement, which included Germany, France and Britain, was a "horrible one-sided deal that should never ever have been made." He added that the United States "will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction."

President Trump&aposs decision means Iran&aposs government must now decide whether to follow the U.S. and withdraw or try to salvage what&aposs left of the deal. Iran has offered conflicting statements about what it may do — and the answer may depend on exactly how President Trump exits the agreement.

One official briefed on the decision said President Trump would move to reimpose all sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 deal, not just the ones facing an immediate deadline.

Supporters of trying to fix the agreement had hoped President Trump would choose a piecemeal approach that could leave more room for him to reverse himself and stay in if he could secure the additional restrictions on Iran that European nations have tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with President Trump. Still, the administration planned to allow a grace period of at least three months and possibly up to six months so that businesses and governments can wind down operations that would violate the reimposed U.S. sanctions, officials said.

As administration officials briefed congressional leaders about President Trump&aposs plans Tuesday, they emphasized that just as with a major Asia trade deal and the Paris climate pact that President Trump has abandoned, he remains open to renegotiating a better deal, one person briefed on the talks said.

The Iran agreement, struck in 2015 by the United States, other world powers and Iran, lifted most U.S. and international sanctions against the country. In return, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program making it impossible to produce a bomb, along with rigorous inspections.

In a burst of last-minute diplomacy, punctuated by a visit by Britain&aposs top diplomat, the deal&aposs European members gave in to many of President Trump&aposs demands, according to officials, diplomats and others briefed on the negotiations. Yet they still left convinced he was likely to re-impose sanctions.

President Trump spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese leader Xi Jinping about his decision Tuesday. The British foreign secretary traveled to Washington this week to make a last-minute pitch to the U.S. to remain in the deal, according to a senior British diplomat. The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the British objective will remain to uphold and maintain the deal.

Hours before the announcement, European countries met to underline their support for the agreement. Senior officials from Britain, France and Germany met in Brussels with Iran&aposs Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Abbas Araghchi.

If the deal collapses, Iran would be free to resume prohibited enrichment activities, while businesses and banks doing business with Iran would have to scramble to extricate themselves or run afoul of the U.S. American officials were dusting off plans for how to sell a pullout to the public and explain its complex financial ramifications.

In Iran, many were deeply concerned about how President Trump&aposs decision could affect the already struggling economy. In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani sought to calm nerves, smiling as he appeared at a petroleum expo. He didn&apost name President Trump directly, but emphasized that Iran continued to seek "engagement with the world."

"It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this," Rouhani said.

Under the most likely scenario, President Trump would allow sanctions on Iran&aposs central bank — intended to target oil exports — to kick back in, rather than waiving them once again on Saturday, the next deadline for renewal, said individuals briefed on President Trump&aposs deliberations. Then the administration would give those who are doing business with Iran a six-month period to wind down business and avoid breaching those sanctions.

Depending on how President Trump sells it — either as an irreversible U.S. pullout, or one final chance to save it — the deal could be strengthened during those six months in a last-ditch effort to persuade President Trump to change his mind. The first 15 months of Trump&aposs presidency have been filled with many such "last chances" for the Iran deal in which he&aposs punted the decision for another few months, and then another.

Even President Trump&aposs secretary of state and the U.N. agency that monitors nuclear compliance agree that Iran, so far, has lived up to its side of the deal. But the deal&aposs critics, such as Israel, the Gulf Arab states and many Republicans, say it&aposs a giveaway to Tehran that ultimately paves the path to a nuclear-armed Iran several years in the future.

Iran, for its part, has been coy in predicting its response to a President Trump withdrawal. For weeks, Iran&aposs foreign minister had been saying that a re-imposition of U.S. sanctions would render the deal null and void, leaving Tehran little choice but to abandon it as well. But on Monday, Rouhani said Iran could stick with it if the European Union, whose economies do far more business with Iran than the U.S., offers guarantees that Iran would keep benefiting.

For the Europeans, President Trump&aposs withdrawal constitutes dispiriting proof that trying to appease him is futile.

Although the U.S. and Europeans made progress on ballistic missiles and inspections, there were disagreements over extending the life of the deal and how to trigger additional penalties if Iran were found violating the new restrictions, U.S. officials and European diplomats have said. The Europeans agreed to yet more concessions in the final days of negotiating ahead of President Trump&aposs decision, the officials added.

The following are statements of reaction to the U.S. pullout of the Iran nuclear accord:

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel

"The Iran agreement was built on the lies of a leading state sponsor of terrorism, preserving its nuclear capability and allowing the regime to build a nuclear weapon in several years," said Chairwoman McDaniel. "President Trump’s decision fulfills a promise he made to the American people and corrects an Obama-era mistake that should never have been made.

"President Trump has made it clear that he will only enter into enforceable agreements that strengthen the security of the United States of America."


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