Trump ‘poised to ignore warnings and scrap Iran nuclear deal’ despite last-ditch pleas from European allies
- The President tweeted that he is due to make a decision on the deal later today
- European diplomats say they believe he is likely to announce US will pull out
- Deal saw Iran mothball its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief
- Trump called deal ‘insane’ as it doesn’t prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons
Donald Trump is expected to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran, ignoring last-ditch pleas by his European allies.
The President has consistently threatened to pull out of the 2015 agreement because it does not address Iran’s ballistic missile program or its role in wars in Syria and Yemen, and does not permanently prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.
He has unsuccessfully demanded changes to the Obama-era deal – which he has described as ‘insane – whereby Iran mothballed its suspected nuclear weapons program in return for massive sanctions relief.
Donald Trump has been a fierce critic of the nuclear deal with Iran and now looks poised to tear it up
The President tweeted that he is due to make his decision later today
Months of intensive talks between the United States and European allies now appear deadlocked, with Berlin, London and Paris refusing to rewrite the agreement.
The president tweeted he would announce his decision at 2:00 pm even as British foreign secretary Boris Johnson shuttled around Washington to reach a last-gasp breakthrough.
One European diplomat echoed the mood around foreign embassies in Washington, saying ‘there is plainly a difference of opinion,’ acknowledging Trump seems poised to walk away.
Concretely, the US president will now to decide whether to continue to waive sanctions on Iran’s central bank and its oil sector dealings, a key pillar of the agreement.
‘It’s pretty obvious to me that unless something changes in the next few days, I believe the president will not waive the sanctions,’ the European official said.
Boris Johnson, pictured with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has pleaded with President Trump to stick with the deal
‘I would like to pretend to you today that I feel that there is a chance of the existing (deal) remaining intact,’ the official said.
‘I think that that chance may exist but it is very small.’
Appearing on the Fox & Friends programme today – known to be Mr Trump’s favourite news show – Mr Johnson said the president had a ‘legitimate point’ that the pact was not perfect.
But he appealed for the US not to throw the ‘baby out with the bathwater’ by ditching the arrangements altogether.
‘If you do that you have to answer the question what next? What if the Iranians do rush for a nuclear weapon?’ he said.
‘Are we seriously saying that we are going to bomb those facilities at Fordo and Natanz?
‘Is that really a realistic possibility? Or do we work round what we have got and push back on Iran together?’
Mr Johnson added: ‘Plan B does not seem to me to be particularly well-developed at this stage.’
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has said his country will not be worried by ‘America’s cruel decisions’ and remains committed to the deal
Meanwhile, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani warned the country could face ‘some problems’ ahead of President decision.
Without directly naming Trump, Rouhani’s remarks at a petroleum conference in Tehran represented the first official Iranian comment on the U.S. president’s overnight tweet that he’d make an announcement on the deal Tuesday.
Iran nuclear deal – what happens after next?
The official deadline for the United States to continue to waive sanctions on Iran is May 12.
What happens next relates to the nature of the sanctions that will be re-imposed on Iran and whether the Islamic Republic will continue to abide by the 2015 agreement or press ahead with its nuclear programme.
Sanctions previously imposed by the UN, US and EU in an attempt to force Iran to halt uranium enrichment crippled its economy, costing it more than £110bn in oil revenue from 2012 to 2016 alone.
US President Donald Trump, seen here shaking hands with National Security Advisor John Bolton, faces a May 12 deadline for deciding what, if anything, to do about the Iran nuclear deal
As part of the deal, Iran would see $100bn in assets overseas unfrozen and was able to resume selling oil on international markets as well as use the global financial system for trade.
The most basic scenario is that this situation is reversed and even new sanctions imposed with Iran the resuming its nuclear programme.
As part of that Iran could cancel access to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, who visit its nuclear sites to verify whether it is abiding by the terms of the agreement.
Britain, France and Germany are then likely to reimpose their own sanctions, bringing an end to what has been a reasonably amicable period in relations between Iran and the US.
That would also raise the possibility of Israel carrying out its threat to take military action to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.
If Iran also tears up its side of the deal and resumes its nuclear programme, that increases the possibility of an attack by Israel
But there has been speculation that some kind of half-way house will emerge.
Under this scenario, the America re-imposes sanctions on Iran but other five other countries that brokered the deal – China, Russia, France, UK, Germany – stand by their commitments and Iran keeps up its own end of the bargain.
Trump would also signal the United States will not penalize other countries that do business with Iran, a situation that existed under the previous sanctions regime.
‘The president may conclude that a big muddle is his best option,’ Jon Alterman, director of the Middle-East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told AFP.
‘Uncertainty over what the United States will do would seriously inhibit foreign investment in Iran, which seems to be an administration goal.’
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has also hinted that the deal could continue without the United States but with the other signatories.
‘If we can get what we want from a deal without America, then Iran will continue to remain committed to the deal,’ he said.
‘But if not, Tehran will continue its own path.’
The agreement has a dispute resolution mechanism, which Iran could use to signal that it wants to continue with the deal.
‘It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this,’ Rouhani said.
Rouhani also stressed Iran wants to keep ‘working with the world and constructive engagement with the world.’
Rouhani said the Islamic Republic had been preparing for every possible scenario, including a deal without Washington – which would still include the other signatories that remain committed to it – or no deal at all.
‘We are not worried about America’s cruel decisions. We are prepared for all scenarios and no change will occur in our lives next week,’ Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.
‘If we can get what we want from a deal without America, then Iran will continue to remain committed to the deal.
‘What Iran wants is our interests to be guaranteed by its non-American signatories. In that case, getting rid of America’s mischievous presence will be fine for Iran.’
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