Continuing a process that he began last October when he said that he would no longer certify the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that the United States would withdraw from the deal.
In a short statement Trump laid out the flaws that he identified in the JCPOA including that it imposed “weak limits” on Iran’s nuclear program, and “no limits” on Iran’s other “malign activities.” He also noted that the deal, with its sunset clauses, would allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons as well as the “means of delivering them.”
Trump announced that he would sign a presidential memorandum to reinstate sanctions that were lifted as part of the deal. The Treasury Department released an info sheet which details how the U.S. will reimpose nuclear-related sanctions after a 90-day and a 180-day wind-down period.
Trump also criticized the deal for allowing Iran to benefit from “many billions of dollars.”
The president said that a “constructive deal could have been struck” at the time but wasn’t, and that “at the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program.”
Referring to last week’s revelations by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran had pursued a nuclear weapons program for years, Trump said that he now has “definitive proof” that Iran was deceiving the world regarding its nuclear program.
In the years since the nuclear deal, Trump said, Iran’s military budget grew by 40% and its “bloody ambitions have grown even more brazen.”
The president criticized the deal for containing inspection provisions that were “inadequate,” and for failing to include an “unqualified right” to inspect sites including military sites. Iran has never allowed International Atomic Energy Inspectors (IAEA) onto military sites and has said that it will always refuse to do so. In the case of Parchin, IAEA inspectors monitored Iranian scientists taking samples remotely.
Since announcing in October that he would no longer certify the deal and, in January, that he would no longer waive sanctions unless the flaws in the deal were fixed, Trump said that the United States had “engaged allies” to find fixes for the deal.
Trump said that if he would do nothing, “we know exactly what will happen” – “the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.”
“As we exit the Iran deal, we will be working with our allies to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat,” Trump said. “This will include efforts to eliminate the threat of Iran’s ballistic missile program; to stop its terrorist activities worldwide; and to block its menacing activity across the Middle East. In the meantime, powerful sanctions will go into full effect. If the regime continues its nuclear aspirations, it will have bigger problems than it has ever had before.”
He said that the United States would impose the highest-level sanctions against Iran, and that any nation helping Iran develop nuclear weapons could be sanctioned.
Trump said that the United States “will not allow a regime that chants ‘Death to America’ to gain access to the most deadly weapons on Earth and will no longer give into “nuclear blackmail.”
Following his declaration, Trump struck a conciliatory tone addressing the people of Iran, saying that “The people of America stand with you.” He observed that it has been almost “40 years since this dictatorship seized power and took a proud nation hostage.” Trump added, “Most of Iran’s 80 million citizens have sadly never known an Iran that prospered in peace with its neighbors and commanded the admiration of the world.”
The president said that he is open to negotiating with the Iranian regime but doubted that they would be interested. However, with the JCPOA no longer relevant, Trump looked toward the future saying that he was looking to “make a new and lasting deal, that benefits all of Iran and the Iranian people.” He added his hope that a future deal could bring “great things” to Iran and provide “the peace and stability that we all want in the Middle East.”
[Photo: The White House / YouTube ]