President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he’s ditching the Iran nuclear deal, calling it ‘disastrous’ and an ’embarrassment.’
Trump said that the U.S. now has ‘definitive proof’ that Iran was lying about its pursuit of nuclear weapons when it entered into the 2015 agreement. And he threatened Tehran’s mullahs with new headaches if they resume their pursuit of a weapon of mass destruction.
‘If the regime continues its nuclear aspirations, it will have bigger problems than it has ever had before,’ the president warned. ‘It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.’
‘The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen: In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.’
Barack Obama and his former secretary of state John Kerry both bashed Trump’s decision, calling it unnecessary and wrongheaded.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani responded, telling his country’s state-run TV network: ‘I have ordered Iran’s atomic organization that whenever it is needed, we will start enriching uranium more than before. Rouhani said Iran would start ramping up production ‘in the next weeks.’
Rouhani blasted Trump immediately after Tuesday’s speech.
‘Iran will be conferring with the world’s two superpowers, Russia and China,’ he sniped, insisting that Trump’s ‘psychological war and economic pressures will not work.’
Leaders of America’s three staunchest European allies – France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and the United Kingdom’s Theresa May – issued a joint statement asking the U.S. not to do anything that would prevent them from keeping the nuclear deal intact even without Washington’s participation.
Iran ‘continues to abide by the restrictions’ of the deal, the three leaders said, citing a statement from the International Atomic Energy Agency, adding that ‘the world is a safer place as a result.’
‘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,’ they said.
The president has been outspoken for nearly three years about the nuclear bargain that he called ‘insane’ and ‘the worst deal in history.’
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, whose Cabinet department oversees economic sanctions against rogue regimes, said before Trump’s speech that ‘[w]e will continue to work with our allies to build an agreement that is truly in the best interest of our long-term national security.’
The United States, he said, will cut off Iran’s ‘access to capital’ to fund terrorism, ‘its use of ballistic missiles against our allies, its support for the brutal Assad regime in Syria, its human rights violations against its own people, and its abuses of the international financial system.’
Former President Barack Obama, whose administration inked the Iran deal, called Tuesday’s pullback ‘misguided.’
Walking away from the deal, he said in a statement, ‘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,’ he added.
Obama cautioned that the agreement ‘was never intended to solve all of our problems with Iran. We were clear-eyed that Iran engages in destabilizing behavior – including support for terrorism and threats toward Israel and its neighbors.’
‘But that’s precisely why it was so important that we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,’ the former president said, articulating the central dispute in Washington over whether the deal was preventing Tehran’s nuclear weapons development or enabling it.
Trump implied Tuesday that the Obama administration’s best intentions were always bound to be steamrolled by Tehran’s lies.
‘In theory, the so-called Iran deal was supposed to protect the United States and our allies from the lunacy of an Iranian nuclear bomb, a weapon that will only endanger the survival of the Iranian regime,’ Trump declared.
‘In fact, the deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium, and over time reach the brink of a nuclear breakout.’
Trump said several times that the U.S. will not under any circumstances allow Iran to join the ranks of nuclear nations – in no small part because of its belligerence toward America.
‘We will not allow a regime that chants “Death to America” to gain access to the most deadly weapons on earth,’ he said.
The president added that he is reimposing the highest level of sanctions on Tehran, and the U.S. will punish any country that helps Iran in its quest.
‘America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail,’ Trump asserted in remarks from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.
National Security Advisor John Bolton told reporters after Trump spoke that ‘we’re out of the deal.’
‘The only sure way to get on the path of stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons and delivery capabilities is to get out of the deal, and that’s what the president has done,’ he said.
Bolton said at the White House that sanctions would be snapped back into place on a rolling basis, with some segments of the pre-agreement situation returning quickly and others coming back in a matter of months.
No new commercial contracts will be permitted between U.S. trading partners and Tehran, he said. But for existing contracts, ‘there’s a wind-down period to allow orderly termination.’
And on the question of whether Trump’s abandonment of the terms of the 2015 deal means the U.S. is now in violation of it, Bolton responded: ‘No, I don’t think we’re violating, I think we’re withdrawing from it.’
Tehran says it’s unwilling to enter into a new agreement with the U.S. that addresses Trump’s other complaints about the rogue regime’s behaviour, including its illicit financing of terrorism.
‘That’s fine. I’d probably say the same thing if I were in their position,’ Trump said Tuesday. ‘But the fact is they are probably going to want to make a new and lasting deal. … When they do I am ready willing and able.’
It came as no surprise globally that Trump announced the United States’ withdraw from the pact he inherited from the previous administration. The big unknown was what would happen next.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose nation’s existence Iran threatens on a regular basis, called Trump’s decision a ‘historic move,’ and said leaving the Iran deal intact would have been ‘a recipe for disaster, a disaster for our region, a disaster for the peace of the world.’
He claimed Iran’s level of aggression has grown since the Obama-era deal – especially in Syria, where Tehran is ‘trying to establish military bases to attack Israel.’
The Israeli Defense Forces issued a warning just minutes before Trump broadcast his message.
‘Following the identification of irregular activity of Iranian forces in Syria, the IDF has decided to change the civilian protection instructions in the Golan Heights and instructs local authorities to unlock and ready shelters in the area,’ the forces’ statement said.
‘The Israeli public should remain attentive to IDF instructions that will be given if necessary. Additionally, defence systems have been deployed and IDF troops are on high alert for an attack.’
Trump said the U.S. would impose new sanctions on countries that help Iran in its quest for a nuclear weapon but did not say what he would do to companies that may have unrelated business deals with the Islamist nation.
White House legislative director Marc Short told DailyMail.com on Tuesday morning that the president ‘wants to see Iran end its nuclear program but also become a nation that is not funding terrorism, not attacking Israel not looking to continue to attack allies that we have.
‘I think he’s looking for an agreement that brings Iran into the international community as opposed to being a rogue nation-state that funds terrorism,’ Short said during a press scrum on the driveway leading into the West Wing.
Trump is anticipated to allow the oil sanctions that legally come up for discussion every 120 days under the deal to be reimposed on Tehran. The sanctions cut Iran’s oil exports in half in 2012, Foreign Policy reports and crippled the Islamic Republic’s economy.
European companies will have to choose, if the sanctions are slapped back on, whether they want to do business with the U.S. or the taboo government, putting them in an undesirable position.
Trump is said to have informed Macron in a phone call this morning that he will pull the U.S. out the nuclear deal it signed onto three years ago after intense negotiations with Tehran.
Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, piled on the partisan rancour after Trump finished shaking the Middle East’s Etch-a-Sketch.
Trump’s ‘reckless decision,’ Perez said, ‘makes the world less safe.’
‘[T]he president is threatening our national security, undermining American credibility, isolating us from our partners and allies, and abandoning our commitments under this agreement,’ he insisted.
Trump’s planned remarks had U.S. allies on edge earlier in the day. A senior British diplomat told DailyMail.com the U.K. was ‘deeply pessimistic’ ahead of public the announcement.
And Rouhani had said the U.S. will have ‘historic remorse’ for its decision while insisting that ‘getting rid of America’s mischievous presence will be fine for Iran.’
‘If we can get what we want from a deal without America, then Iran will continue to remain committed to the deal,’ Rouhani said according to the Iran Daily. ‘What Iran wants is our interests to be guaranteed by non-American signatories.’
John Glaser, director of foreign policy studies at the right-leaning Cato Institute, warned Tuesday that if the U.S. imposes external sanctions successfully, European companies will pull out of investment projects in Iran, removing the incentives that Rouhani would need to mollify hardliners in his country who want Iran to restart its nuclear program.
‘With lots of political will this deal could remain in place without the United States, but it’s going to be very, very difficult for the participants to manage,’ Glaser said.
Iran will feel ‘unburdened’ if the U.S. leaves the pact, he said and is likely to install new centrifuges to spin uranium and limit access to inspectors.
‘This could really unravel into something with grave consequences,’ he cautioned. ‘All my fingers and toes are crossed because this is a good deal that should continue to be implemented.’
U.K. foreign minister Boris Johnson worried that Trump could take military action against Tehran on top of the expected sanctions renewal. He also warned that collapse of the deal could set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the U.A.E. wanting weapons, as well.
‘It’s already a very, very dangerous state at the moment, we don’t want to go down that road. There doesn’t seem to me at the moment to be a viable military solution,’ Johnson told Fox & Friends.
Johnson was in the U.S. making last-ditch pleas for the U.S. to stay in the deal to Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, both of whom are senior White House officials.
Commenting on the talks on Tuesday, a senior British diplomat told DailyMail.com that Johnson in the meetings noted ‘our frank views on its shortcomings in regards to broader Iranian activity in the Middle East.
‘Following the visit, unfortunately, we are deeply pessimistic ahead of President Trump’s announcement later today,’ the person said. ‘However, we will have to wait and see what exactly President Trump says.’
The diplomat said, ‘Our objective will remain to uphold and maintain the JCPOA. We will need to wait to understand what the US plan is to deliver on our shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and addressing their regional behaviour.’
Trump at a news conference last month rebuffed a reporter who asked about potential military action against Iran.
‘I don’t talk about whether or not I would use military force,’ Trump said at a joint presser with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. ‘But I can tell you this, they will not be doing nuclear weapons. That I can tell you. OK? They are not going to be doing nuclear weapons. You can bank on it.’
Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu has been pushing Trump to take a more aggressive posture toward Iran, his nation’s most prolific antagonist.
Netanyahu delivered a presentation last week claiming Israel’s intelligence agency had proof that Iran ‘lied’ about its intention to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
Trump complained about the nuclear deal consistently during his campaign and harangued it as a ‘very badly negotiated’ agreement in a tweet Monday that took aim at the secretary of state who helped to broker it.
The comment followed his remarks at a news conference alongside Macron that the deal was made ‘decayed foundations’ and was not structured to last.
‘Should have never, ever been made. I blame Congress. I blame a lot of people for it,’ Trump said.
Trump has until May 12 to decide whether he wants to allow a sanctions waiver that applies to Tehran to expire.
If the sanctions go back into effect, the U.S. will be in violation of the agreement effectively ending its participation in the deal it entered into with the U.K., France, China, Russia and Germany.
Trump has said he would be willing to sign on to a companion agreement that encompasses the nuclear aspects of the current one and applies new pressure to Iran to abandon its ballistic missiles program, end terrorist financing and broker a peace agreement between the ruling government and rebels in Syria.
Macron told Trump last month that he would pursue such an agreement on behalf of Europe. The French president told reporters after his White House visit that he suspected Trump would leave the 2015 accord in the meantime to hasten the process up.
Hinting at the action he is anticipated to take today Trump told Macron publicly, ‘I think we will have a great shot at doing a much bigger maybe deal, maybe not deal. We’re going to find out, but we’ll know fairly soon.’
He also said ‘nobody knows what I’m going to do on the 12th, although, Mr President, you have a pretty good idea — we’ll see.
‘But we’ll see also if I do what some people expect, whether or not it will be possible to do a new deal with solid foundations,’ he said. ‘Because of this a deal with decayed foundations. It’s a bad deal. It’s a bad structure. It’s falling down.’
Trump charged then in his most confrontational comments yet to Tehran that, ‘If Iran threatens us in any way, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid.’
Shedding light on his plans last Monday, Trump said a press conference: ‘I’m not telling you what I’m doing, but a lot of people think they know. And on or before the 12th, we’ll make a decision.
‘That doesn’t mean we won’t negotiate a real agreement,’ he added.
Trump’s White House spokeswoman and the president appeared to be on different wavelengths about the timing of that declaration on Monday, with Sarah Sanders saying at the news conference that he would be making an ‘announcement on what his decision is soon’ only to have Trump tweet minutes later that it would come on Tuesday.
‘As you know he’s got a few days to do that, and we’ll let you know when he’s ready to make a decision on it,’ she said.
She also suggested that former Secretary of State John Kerry needs to butt out of negotiations after his secret meetings with foreign leaders were revealed.
Trump blasted Kerry on Tuesday morning as he prepared to take the U.S. foreign policy in a new direction.
‘John Kerry can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it! Stay away from negotiations John, you are hurting your country!’ Trump said.
The president had already spoken out about Kerry’s ‘shadow diplomacy’ on Monday following news reports that the Obama administration official has secretly met with foreign governments in a bid to save the much-maligned deal.
The Boston Globe reported Friday that Kerry quietly met two weeks ago with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and had separate confabs with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and French President Emmanuel Macron – all to strategize against Trump’s intention to spend the deal.
‘The United States does not need John Kerry’s possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy on the very badly negotiated Iran Deal,’ the president wrote Monday on Twitter. ‘He was the one that created this MESS in the first place!’
Sanders told reporters on Monday that Kerry’s advocacy won’t make a difference as Trump weighs what to do.
‘I don’t think that we would take advice from somebody who created what the president sees as one of the worst deals ever made,’ she said. ‘I don’t see why we would start listening to him now.’
A spokesman for Kerry issued a statement late Monday morning, defending his apparent habit of lobbying foreign governments as a civilian, potentially in violation of an obscure U.S. law known as the Logan Act.
‘I think every American would want every voice possible urging Iran to remain in compliance with the nuclear agreement that prevented a war,’ the statement said.
‘Secretary Kerry stays in touch with his former counterparts around the world just like every previous Secretary of State. Like America’s closest allies, he believes it is important that the nuclear agreement, which took the world years to negotiate, remain effective as countries focus on stability in the region.’
Kerry’s tenure as secretary of state ended when Trump took office in January of 2017. Trump replaced him with the since-fired Rex Tillerson. Mike Pompeo holds the Cabinet-level position now.
The Logan Act makes it a felony for unauthorized civilians to conduct foreign policy with nations that are in the midst of a dispute with the United States.
The statute dates back to 1799 and has only been used twice to indict people – in 1803 and 1852. Neither was convicted.
One defendant, a Peruvian admiral, was prosecuted for writing a letter to the president of Mexico to scuttle a competitor’s bid to build a railroad connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The other was a farmer charged with the crime of writing a newspaper article urging western U.S. states to secede and join neighboring French territories.
Some legal scholars have written that the Logan Act is unconstitutional and only remains on the books because it hasn’t been tested in court.
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