Trump pulls US out of landmark Iran nuclear deal

Iranian president says country will remain committed to multinational nuclear deal

US president Donald Trump has said his country will "implement the highest level of economic sanction" against Iran as he pulls out of the Iran nuclear deal. Video: The White House

 

US president Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was reimposing economic sanctions on Iran and pulling the United States out of an international agreement aimed at stopping Tehran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

The decision is likely to raise the risk of conflict in the Middle East, upset America’s European allies and disrupt global oil supplies.

“I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal,” Mr Trump said at the White House. “In a few moments, I will sign a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating US nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime. We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanctions.”

The president said he would impose the “highest level” of economic sanctions on Iran.

Mr Trump said despite his previous warnings, the “disastrous” deal must be reformed and the necessary changes had not been secured. He said: “The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them.”

He spoke out against the arrangement as “a horrible, one-sided deal” based on a lie. He said that if he allowed the deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race. He called Iran a “regime of great terror”. And he said that “no action taken by the regime has been more dangerous than its pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them”.

The Trump administration said it would re-impose 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 did not specify which sanctions would fall under which timelines.

The Treasury said 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. Former US president Barack Obama called the US pullout a “serious mistake,” and warned it will erode America’s global credibility.

Iran reaction

President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Iran would remain committed to a multinational nuclear deal. “If we achieve the deal’s goals in co-operation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place . . . By exiting the deal, America has officially undermined its commitment to an international treaty,” Mr Rouhani said in a televised speech.

“I have ordered the foreign ministry to negotiate with the European countries, China and Russia in coming weeks. If at the end of this short period we conclude that we can fully benefit from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) with the co-operation of all countries, the deal would remain,” he added.

European leaders

Mr Trump’s move is a snub to European allies such as France, Britain and Germany, who are also part of the Iran deal and tried hard to convince him to preserve it.

In a joint statement, British prime minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron said the decision was a matter of “regret and concern” and said they remained committed to the deal. They said: “It is with regret and concern that we, the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom take note of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States of America from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“Together, we emphasise our continuing commitment to the JCPoA. This agreement remains important for our shared security.” They urged Iran to “show restraint” in response to the decision by the US.

Obama-era deal

Mr Trump made the announcement on the future of the Iran deal at 2.23pm (7.23pm Irish time) on Tuesday.

The 2015 deal, the signature foreign policy achievement of Mr Trump’s predecessor Mr Obama, eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear programme to prevent it from being able to make an atomic bomb.

Mr Trump has frequently criticised the accord because it does not address Iran’s ballistic missile programme, its nuclear activities beyond 2025, nor its role in conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

‘America First’

Abandoning of the Iran pact is be the most high-stakes move yet in Mr Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, which has seen the United States come close to a trade war with China and announce its withdrawal last year from the Paris climate accord.

Renewing sanctions would make it much harder for Iran to sell its oil abroad or use the international banking system.

But the Iran deal may remain partially intact, even without the United States. Mr Rouhani suggested on Monday that Iran could remain in the accord with the other signatories that remain committed to it.

China and Russia are also signatories to the Iran pact.– Reuters and PA