Monday 16 September 2019

Iran nuclear deal is 'defective' says Trump as US pulls out

America reimposes sanctions but Britain, France and Germany stay

US President Donald Trump holds up a memorandum that re-instates sanctions on Iran after he announced his decision to withdraw the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal at the White House. Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump holds up a memorandum that re-instates sanctions on Iran after he announced his decision to withdraw the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal at the White House. Photo: Reuters

Ben Riley-Smith

Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal yesterday, reimposing sanctions on Tehran and delivering on an election campaign promise.

The president said the "defective" 2015 agreement would not stop Iran developing a nuclear bomb and signed a memorandum enacting America's withdrawal.

Trump after the announcement. Photo: Reuters
Trump after the announcement. Photo: Reuters

Iran has been accused of failing to be honest about its nuclear ambitions while supporting terrorist groups and acting in an increasingly hostile way across the Middle East.

Britain, France and Germany condemned the move and promised to stand by the nuclear agreement, claiming it was the only way to prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. However, Israel, which released intelligence on Iran's nuclear programme last week, and several Arab nations welcomed the announcement.

Mr Trump said: "It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.

"The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen.

"In just a short period of time the world's leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world's most dangerous weapon.

"Therefore I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal."

The president added: "Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States."

Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, warned that if negotiations with other partners to the deal failed, then the country's uranium enrichment programme would restart.

Shortly after the announcement, there were widespread reports of an explosion in Syria, possibly the result of an Israeli strike on Iranian forces.

The decision to reimpose sanctions raises fears that European companies that trade with the Iranian government and do business in America could be caught up in the action if they do not curtail their dealings with Iran.

Mr Trump has long been a critic of the nuclear deal, which was signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and lifted sanctions in turn for the country's nuclear programme being curbed. Mr Obama criticised the decision as a "mistake".

Mr Trump said he was open to striking a wider deal with Iran that would address behaviour such as the country's ballistic missiles programme and involvement in Syria and Yemen. The president said he wanted a "real, comprehensive and lasting solution" that would thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. He also made clear he was delivering on an election campaign pledge, saying: "The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them."

Mr Trump also said there was "definitive proof" Iran's claims that its nuclear energy programme was only for peaceful purposes was a "lie".

However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, has repeatedly said Iran is in compliance with the terms of the 2015 deal.

The re-imposition of sanctions will come into effect between three and six months from now. They include sanctions on oil exports, the country's central bank and businesses. Some European firms are exploring ways to continue doing business in Iran after making significant investments over the past three years.

Britain, France and Germany issued a joint statement saying they "regret" the decision and making clear they remain parties to the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. It said: "Our governments remain committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld, and will work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure this remains the case, including through ensuring the continuing economic benefits to the Iranian people that are linked to the agreement.

It went on: "We encourage Iran to show restraint in response to the decision by the US; Iran must continue to meet its own obligations under the deal, cooperating fully and in a timely manner with IEAE inspection requirements."

EU leaders are expected to meet within days to discuss how the deal can be rescued.

Mr Rouhani denounced Mr Trump's speech as "psychological warfare" and said his country would not bow to pressure.

He said: "Our people have always been victorious in the face of conspiracies and we will also emerge victorious at this juncture." But he added: "I have ordered Iran's atomic organisation that whenever it is needed, we will start enriching uranium more than before."

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister and a leading critic of the deal, said Mr Trump had made a "brave and correct decision" to withdraw from it.

Irish Independent

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