President Donald Trump declared on Tuesday that he is pulling the United States out the “decaying and rotten” Iran nuclear agreement, breaking away from European allies and leaving the future of Iran uncertain.
“The Iran deal is defective at its core,” Trump said in a 10-minute address from the White House Diplomatic Room. “Therefore, I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.”
Trump added, “This was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”
Trump’s announcement comes ahead of a May 12 deadline to make a decision on sanctions. Before Tuesday’s announcement, the White House began informing allies that the president had decided to withdraw from the deal and to reimpose sanctions as well impose new sanctions against Iran.
Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, the accord was put in place by former President Barack Obama in 2015 that lifted U.S. and international sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing its nuclear program and regular inspections. According to international monitors, Iran was complying with the terms of the deal. Withdrawing from the deal will now give the United States the power to reimpose the sanctions imposed on Iran before the deal, as well as “instituting the highest level of economic sanction.”
According to The Treasury Department, restoration of some sanctions will go into effect after a 90-day countdown, with the rest of the sanctions kicking in after a 180-day wind-down period. Once sanctions are reimposed, the U.S. effectively would be out of the deal.
Trump outlined several reasons for getting out of the deal, including citing Israel’s demonstration last week where they declared that “Iran lied” about its nuclear intentions.
“Last week, Israel published intelligence documents long concealed by Iran, conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons,” Trump said. “Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie.”
After the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “Israel fully supports” the president “bold decision.”
Israel fully supports @realDonaldTrump’s bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran. The deal didn’t push war further away; it actually brought it closer. The deal didn’t reduce Iran’s aggression; it dramatically increased it. pic.twitter.com/sxJHocLqu7
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) May 8, 2018
However, the announcement would draw opposition from European leaders, who for weeks lobbied against U.S. from withdrawing from the deal and instead work to fix the deal in place.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement denouncing Trump’s decision, urging Iran to “continue to meet its own obligations under the deal,” adding all three nations will remain committed in preserving the deal.
“Our governments remain committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld, and will work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure this remains the case, including through ensuring the continuing economic benefits to the Iranian people that are linked to the agreement,” the joint statement read. “This resolution remains the binding international legal framework for the resolution of the dispute about the Iranian nuclear programme. We urge all sides to remain committed to its full implementation and to act in a spirit of responsibility.”
Obama, who rarely comments on his successor released a statement on Facebook shortly after the announcement, describing Trump’s move “so misguided” that could leave the US with a “losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East.”
“That is why today’s announcement is so misguided,” Obama wrote. “Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies, and an agreement that our country’s leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated. In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and priorities from one Administration to the next. But the consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers.”
Obama added, “Without the JCPOA, the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East. We all know the dangers of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he had ordered his foreign minister to begin negotiations with other countries still in the deal to savage the accord. He added if talks of negotiations fail, Iran will restart its nuclear program “without any limitations.”
“So if necessary, we can begin our industrial enrichment without any limitations,” Rouhani said broadcasting live within minutes after Trump’s announcement. “Until implementation of this decision, we will wait for some weeks and will talk with our friends and allies and other signatories of the nuclear deal, who signed it and who will remain loyal to it. Everything depends on our national interests.”
Despite withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran Deal, Trump stated that he will continue to negotiate with allies to “find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution” on Iran’s nuclear program, including “efforts to eliminate the threat of Iran’s ballistic missile program; to stop its terrorist activities worldwide; and to block its menacing activity across the Middle East.”