Trump withdraws US from Iran nuclear deal

  • 05-08-2018 07:05 PM

Decision is major blow to European allies who had been counseling Trump to stay in accord

Bucking pressure from the U.S.'s closest European allies, President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. Tuesday from its participation in the landmark nuclear agreement world powers struck with Iran in 2015. 

Trump opted not to extend sanctions relief on Iran ahead of a May 12 deadline, vowing instead to re-impose the U.S.'s nuclear-related economic penalties.

“We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction," Trump said while announcing his decision from the White House, warning Tehran that if it "continues its nuclear aspirations it will have bigger problems than it has ever had before.”

Trump said the "horrible one-sided" agreement should have never been agreed to, claiming it "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."

Sanctions will begin to be reimposed within 90-day and 180-day "wind-down periods," the Treasury Department said in a statement. 

The decision strikes a major blow to the nonproliferation agreement that was one of former President Barack Obama's signature achievements, as well as to European leaders who had been counseling Trump against the move. 

 The 2015 nuclear agreement placed unprecedented restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions, but Trump has consistently railed against it since he began his bid for America's highest office, repeatedly claiming it is the "worst deal" he has ever seen.

All of the U.S.'s negotiating partners -- the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, China and the EU -- had agreed that maintaining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was the best way to reign in Iran's program.

The EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, is expected to address Trump's decision shortly. 

Trump had until recently been warned against violating the nuclear accord by some of his closest advisors who have since been replaced by what analysts consider as more hawkish individuals, including National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

Trump said the U.S. will be "working with our allies to find a real, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat", but the specifics on any such effort are unclear.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres voiced deep concern over Trump’s announcement, calling the JCPOA “a major achievement in nuclear non-proliferation and diplomacy” that has benefited the region and the international community.

“It is essential that all concerns regarding the implementation of the Plan be addressed through the mechanisms established in the JCPOA,” he said in a statement.