President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday announced the U.S. withdrawal from the “defective” multinational nuclear deal with Iran, as Washington moved to reinstate punishing sanctions against the Islamic republic.
“The Iran deal is defective at its core,” Trump said in a televised address from the White House. “I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.”
After consulting U.S. “friends” from across the Middle East, Trump said, “it is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.”
“America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail,” Trump vowed. “We will not allow American cities 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.”
Statement on the Iran Nuclear Deal: https://t.co/O3SpryCKkc
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2018
Following his address, the U.S. leader signed a presidential memorandum to start reinstating U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime.
“We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction,” Trump said. “Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States.”
National Security Advisor John Bolton told reporters after Trump’s speech that the U.S. sanctions would apply to new contracts “immediately,” and that foreign firms would have months to wind down existing operations in Iran.
Describing Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, and decrying its influence in the Middle East, Trump said the United States intended to work with its allies to “find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat.”
Such a solution, he said, would include efforts to eliminate the threat from Iran’s ballistic missile program, stop its “terrorist activities” worldwide, and block its “menacing” activity across the region.
In the meantime, Trump warned, “if the regime continues its nuclear aspirations, it will have bigger problems than it has ever had.”
Trump had long pledged to tear up the “very badly negotiated” agreement — which his predecessor Barack Obama agreed with Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — daring Tehran’s regime to restart its enrichment program and alleged quest for a nuclear weapon.
The U.S. leader had until May 12 to decide whether to continue to waive sanctions on Iran’s central bank and its oil sector dealings, a key pillar of the 2015 agreement.
For months, critics have warned that ending the waivers would unravel the carefully constructed deal, plunge Iran’s already struggling economy into crisis and expose the biggest transatlantic rift since the Iraq War.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his strong support for Trump’s “bold” decision.
“Israel fully supports President Trump’s bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran,” Netanyahu said in a televised address, referring to the multinational accord with his country’s main enemy.
He noted that leaving the current deal in place was “a recipe for disaster, a disaster for our region, a disaster for the peace of the world.” “This is why Israel thinks that President Trump did an historic move.”
I think that everybody recognizes the malign intentions of Iran, and I think everybody also recognizes Israel’s right of self-defense, which is really our common defense pic.twitter.com/tdhQSlOsk8
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) May 8, 2018
Saudi Arabia, regional rival of Iran and longtime U.S. ally, also said it “supports and welcomes” President Trump’s decision.
“The kingdom supports and welcomes the steps announced by the U.S. president towards withdrawing from the nuclear deal,” said an official statement carried by state-run television Al-Ekhbariya.
Meanwhile, E.U. diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said the bloc is “determined to preserve” the agreement.
The 2015 accord “is delivering on its goal which is guaranteeing that Iran doesn’t develop nuclear weapons, the European Union is determined to preserve it,” Mogherini said, warning she was “particularly worried” by Trump’s announcement of new sanctions.
French President Emmanuel Macron stated that France, Germany and Britain regretted the U.S. leader’s move.
“France, Germany, and the UK regret the U.S. decision to leave the JCPOA (Iran deal). The nuclear non-proliferation regime is at stake,” he wrote on Twitter.
“We will work collectively on a broader framework, covering nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity, and stability in the Middle-East, notably Syria, Yemen, and Iraq,” he added.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called Trump’s decision an act of “psychological warfare” against Iran.
Speaking on state television, Rouhani said he wished to discuss Trump’s decision with the European, Russian and Chinese parties to the 2015 deal.
The Iranian president appeared on the state broadcaster just minutes after Trump announced the historic decision to withdraw the United States from the agreement.
Rouhani has stated in recent days that he hopes to salvage the deal as much as possible with the help of the other parties — Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union — who have strongly opposed Washington’s decision to pull out.
Iran Deal: a Stepping Stone to Further Talks on Regional Security