Despite threats from Iran, a possible push from France on behalf of European allies and some of his own experts warning against it, the U.S. President Donald Trump has not made any indications of changing his opinion about pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Image shows Trump and Rouhani
The 2015 deal called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was reached in Lausanne, Switzerland in April 2015 between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, Great Britain, United States and Germany and the European Union.
Under the terms of the agreement, economic sanctions against Iran were to be lifted in exchange for Tehran halting uranium enrichment.
The U.S. offered Iran more than $110 billion a year in sanctions relief and a return to the global economy in exchange for halting its drive for a nuclear weapon.
However, Trump has said that he wants to make Iran’s long-range missile program subject to sanctions under the agreement.
The deal, which was negotiated by the Obama administration, is centered solely on the Iranian’s nuclear weapons program.
With the deadline when Trump would make his decision to stay or pull out of the deal nearing, Iran has ramped up its threats to the U.S. On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that Washington’s failure to uphold the Iran nuclear deal would prompt firm reaction from Tehran.
Rouhani called on Trump to uphold the 2015 nuclear deal or “face severe consequences.”
The country’s President said in a televised speech that the “Iranian government will react firmly” if the White House fails to “live up to their commitments” under the agreement.
In a speech in Tabriz, Rouhani said, “I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will react firmly. If anyone betrays the deal, they should know that they would face severe consequences.”
Previously, Trump has stated that he would scrap the JCPOA, even calling it the “worst deal in history”, unless “a better option” is presented to him.
On May 12, Trump would have to decide whether to renew the deal.
Many international leaders have called on Trump to uphold the agreement and on Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron, who is currently on a three-day state visit to the U.S., said there was no “Plan B” if Trump decided to pull out.
Macron said in an interview, “Is this agreement perfect and this JCPOA a perfect thing for our relationship with Iran? No. But for nuclear – what do you have? As a better option? I don’t see it.”
Meanwhile, in a U.S. media interview, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran could consider “resuming at much greater speed” their nuclear activities if the U.S. were to pull out.
However, on Tuesday, Trump issued a warning to Iran that is should not restart its nuclear program.
He said, “You can mark it down. If they restart their nuclear program they will have bigger problems than they ever had before.”
In an Oval Office meeting with Macron – who was widely expected to try and convince the U.S. President to remain in the pact – Trump blasted the Iran nuclear deal.
Even though Trump reiterated his belief that the 2015 deal is “terrible,” he left the door open to remaining in the deal. He said in a statement, “It was a terrible deal, It should have never, ever been made. We made this terrible deal but we’re going to discuss it.”
Experts noted that despite their budding personal friendship, Trump’s comments revealed the sharp policy disagreements between him and Macron.
Macron and other European leaders believe that the Iran deal is the best hope to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, Russia has warned that the Iran deal is fragile, and any attempts to change it will affect non-proliferation efforts worldwide.
On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that he had made an agreement with China that their countries would oppose any U.S. attempts to sabotage the Iran deal.