Saturday 21 July 2018

US warns Iran not to resume nuclear project

Iranian parliamentarians burn two pieces of paper representing the US flag and the nuclear deal and chant slogans against America, shouting: “Death to America!” Photo: AP
Iranian parliamentarians burn two pieces of paper representing the US flag and the nuclear deal and chant slogans against America, shouting: “Death to America!” Photo: AP

Catherine Lucey and Josh Lederman

US President Donald Trump has warned Iran against resuming its nuclear weapons programme after announcing he was withdrawing the US from the landmark Iran nuclear deal.

"I would advise Iran not to start their nuclear programme," Mr Trump said when he was asked about the potential consequences. "I would advise them very strongly. If they do there will be very severe consequences."

The comments came a day after Mr Trump announced he was withdrawing the US from the accord with Iran, abruptly restoring harsh sanctions in the most consequential foreign policy action of his presidency.

He declared he was making the world safer, but he also deepened his isolation on the world stage and revived doubts about American credibility with a rationale that contradicted the analyses of American and foreign intelligence sources.

Bomb

The 2015 agreement - negotiated by former President Barack Obama's administration and included the European Union - had lifted most economic sanctions against Iran.

‘Misguided’: Barack Obama. Photo: Getty
‘Misguided’: Barack Obama. Photo: Getty

In exchange, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear ­programme, making it impossible to produce a bomb and establishing rigorous inspections.

But Mr Trump, a severe critic of the deal dating back to his 2016 presidential campaign, said in a televised address from the White House that it was "defective at its core." Yesterday he claimed the deal "was going to lead to nuclear proliferation all over the Middle East" and bragged the sanctions would be among the strongest "that we've ever put on a country".

Mr Trump also pointed to Iran's actions in countries including Syria and Yemen.

"With all of the places they're involved, it's bedlam and death and we can't allow that to happen. They've gotta understand life. Because I don't think they do understand life."

Allies in Europe had tried to keep Mr Trump in and lamented his move to abandon it. Iran's leader ominously warned his country might "start enriching uranium more than before".

The sanctions seek to punish Iran for its nuclear programme by limiting its ability to sell oil or do business overseas, affecting a wide range of Iranian economic sectors and individuals.

Major companies in the US and Europe could be hurt.

US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said licences held by Boeing and its European competitor Airbus to sell billions of dollars in commercial jetliners to Iran will be revoked.

Certain exemptions are to be negotiated, but Mr Mnuchin refused to discuss what products might qualify.

He said the sanctions will sharply curtail sales of oil by Iran, which is currently the world's fifth largest producer.

Mr Mnuchin said that he didn't expect oil prices to rise sharply, forecasting other producers will step up production. Iran's government must decide whether to follow the US and withdraw or try to salvage what's left with the Europeans.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he was sending his foreign minister to the remaining countries but warned there was only a short time to negotiate with them.

Mr Trump also left open the possibility of a new deal: "We'll make either a really good deal for the world or we're not going to make a deal at all."

He predicted Iran would choose to negotiate eventually, or face consequences. Companies and banks doing business with Iran will have to scramble to extricate themselves or run into trouble with the US government.

Meanwhile, for nations contemplating striking their own sensitive deals with Mr Trump, such as North Korea, the withdrawal will increase suspicions they cannot expect the US to stick to international agreements it signs.

Flouting

Mr Obama, whose administration negotiated the deal, called Mr Trump's action "misguided".

He said: "The consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America's credibility and puts us at odds with the world's major powers."

Israel and Saudi Arabia welcomed the American move.

Iran has denied ever pursuing nuclear arms.

Many Iranians are deeply concerned about how Mr Trump's decision could affect the already struggling economy.

In Tehran, Mr Rouhani sought to calm nerves, smiling as he appeared at a petroleum expo. He didn't name the American president directly, but emphasised that Iran continued to seek "engagement with the world".

Irish Independent

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