President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions unveils ‘zero tolerance’ policy at southern border NY attorney general resigns after allegations of physical abuse Trump Jr. mocks Schneiderman after reports he abused women MORE on Tuesday announced he will not renew sanctions waivers for the Iran nuclear deal, taking a step that could lead to the deal’s unraveling.
“I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal,” Trump said from the Diplomatic Room in the White House.
Keeping with the promise he made in January, Trump announced he has decided against continuing to wave sanctions as laid out in a 2015 pact between the United States, Iran, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China.
Trump said he would sign an order to “begin reinstating U.S. nuclear sanctions on Iran” and also promised to impose “the highest level of economic sanctions,” including measures that could target nations doing business with Iran.
“It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement,” Trump said as Vice President Pence, national security adviser John Bolton and others looked on. “The Iran deal is defective at its core.”
Trump had faced a Saturday deadline to renew the waivers on oil and banking sanctions that were lifted as part of the deal. The deal had provided Tehran billions in sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.
International inspectors and the deal’s signatories, including U.S. officials, have said Iran continues to comply with the terms of the agreement, but Trump has long derided the Obama-era accord as the “worst deal ever negotiated.”
European allies who are parties to the deal criticized Trump’s decision, saying it would endanger regional security.
Trump had kept the deal alive by waiving sanctions several times since taking office.
The president last renewed the waivers in January, though, he warned he would not do so again unless European allies agreed to “fix” the nuclear deal.
Trump has cited three main flaws in the deal: several provisions sunset, nuclear inspectors cannot demand to see some military sites, and the deal does not address other troubling behavior such as Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for terrorists.
The administration was negotiating with Germany, France and the United Kingdom for a supplemental deal to address those areas.
As the waiver deadline approached, the Europeans engaged in a flurry of activity to convince Trump to remain in the pact. Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson all visited the United States to make their case.
But the deal’s international critics were also active. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech in which he declared “Iran lied” about its nuclear intentions.
Supporters of the deal say the United States withdrawing gives Iran an excuse to restart its nuclear program, effectively killing the pact. France and Germany have warned the end of the deal could mean a Middle East war.
But experts have said Iran is likely to stay in the deal even without the United States if it can continue getting benefits from the accord by being able to do business with European companies.
In a sign that Iran is not ready to walk away from the deal, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday ahead of Trump’s announcement that Iran wants to keep “working with the world and constructive engagement with the world.”
“It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this,” Rouhani said.