Against advice from allies, US President Trump followed through on his threat to pull out of the international deal with Iran, deepening US diplomatic isolation.
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he will follow through on his campaign threat to pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran, dealing a profound blow to US 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 from the White House.
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.”
Statement on the Iran Nuclear Deal: https://t.co/O3SpryCKkc
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2018
Trump’s decision means Iran’s government must now decide whether to follow the US and withdraw or try to salvage what’s left of the deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he was sending his foreign minister to the countries remaining in the accord but warned there was only a short time to negotiate with them and his country could soon “start enriching uranium more than before.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said his country, Britain and Germany all regretted Trump’s decision.
The administration said it will re-impose nuclear sanctions on Iran immediately but allow grace periods for businesses to wind down activity.
The Treasury Department said there will be “certain 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods” but didn’t specify which sanctions would fall under which timelines. Treasury says at the end of those periods, the sanctions will be in “full effect.”
National Security Adviser John Bolton said nobody should sign contracts for new business with Iran.
In his remarks, Trump blasted the deal as “defective at its core.” As evidence, he cited documents recently released by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a leading critic of the deal.
Netanyahu unveiled documents seized by Israeli intelligence showed Iran had attempted to develop a nuclear bomb in the previous decade, especially before 2003. Although he gave no explicit evidence that Iran violated the 2015 deal, he said Iran had clearly lied in the past and could not be trusted. Iran has denied ever pursuing nuclear arms.
The agreement, struck in 2015 by the United States, other world powers and Iran, lifted most US and international sanctions against the country. In return, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear programme making it impossible to produce a bomb, along with rigorous inspections.
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.
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, as expected now that the US is leaving, 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 US sanctions laws.
American officials were dusting off plans for how to sell a pullout to the public and explain its complex financial ramifications, said US officials and others.