Friday 23 March 2018

Trump snubbing world leaders over Iran nuclear deal

RevoInsulted: Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani. Photo: AP
RevoInsulted: Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani. Photo: AP

Ben Riley-Smith

Donald Trump refused to certify the Iran nuclear deal last night as he unveiled a new, tougher strategy on the Tehran regime in a blow to Theresa May and world leaders who urged him to back the agreement.

The US President wants Iran to be bound by tighter restrictions to avoid economic sanctions and will urge Congress to make such changes. However, the move falls short of the total scrapping of agreement - something Mr Trump promised during the election campaign last year.

It marks a major change in America's approach to the nuclear deal, which was signed by Mr Trump's predecessor Barack Obama.

The deal - which was co-signed by other leading nations - agreed to drop sanctions on the Iranian regime in return for it not pursuing nuclear weapons.

However, Mr Trump repeatedly attacked the agreement during his presidential campaign, dubbing it the "worst deal ever" and promising to scrap it.

Since taking office a fierce battle behind the scenes has been taking place in Washington as senior officials - backed up by world leaders - have defended the deal.

It was announced yesterday that Mr Trump will not certify the deal - something the US president has to do every 90 days under a law passed by Congress.

However, he will not scrap the whole agreement for now, instead turning to Congress to agree new restrictions on Iran's behaviour if it wants to keep sanctions off.

These so-called "trigger points" are expected to include Iran's nuclear behaviour but also its ballistic missile testing - something not covered in the initial agreement.

The changes will be proposed in an amendment to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act - a piece of US legislation.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the decision was part of a comprehensive review of Iran's behaviour, including its links to terrorism in the regime.

The US administration will also attempt to disrupt funding to parts of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which America claims is helping terrorist groups.

A White House spokesman said: "The United States's new Iran strategy focuses on neutralising the government of Iran's destabilising influence and constraining its aggression, particularly its support for terrorism and militants.

"We will revitalise our traditional alliances and regional partnerships as bulwarks against Iranian subversion and restore a more stable balance of power in the region."

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran accused Mr Trump of delivering insults and baseless accusations in his speech. He said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps was essential for defending his nation against terrorism and that popular chants - "Death to America" was singled out by Mr Trump as evidence of Iran's hatred - were not directed at the American people but US policies.

He said the US "is more isolated than ever" and could not unilaterally change the deal.

Saudi Arabia welcomed the new US policy towards Iran and said lifting sanctions had allowed Iran to develop its ballistic missile program and step up its support for militant groups.

The kingdom said Iran took advantage of additional financial revenues to support the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah and the Houthi group in Yemen.

Irish Independent

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