Trump announces withdrawl from Iran nuclear accord, reinstatement of sanctions

(Image Source: DoD / CC BY 2.0 / MGN)
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WASHINGTON (AP/KKTV) - After years of threats predating his election, President Donald Trump has announced he is withdrawing the United States from the Iran nuclear accord.

The president spent the first several minutes of his roughly 10-minute remarks disparaging the deal, calling it "disastrous" and a "great embarrassment," before announcing he was taking the country out of it.

"In theory, the so-called Iran deal was supposed to protect the United States and our allies from the lunacy of an Iranian nuclear bomb. ... "It is clear to me 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," he said.

In an address to the Iranian nation shortly after Trump's remarks, President Hassan Rouhani countered that the country complies with its commitments and that Iran "can see clearly which country is not respecting the international commitments."

He said there was a "short time" to negotiate with other world powers to keep the nuclear deal in place.

Leaders of France, Britain and Germany, who had all implored Trump to stay in the agreement, said they regretted his decision.

Under the 2015 nuclear deal struck by the United States, Iran and world powers, most U.S. and international sanctions against the country were lifted. In return, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program making it impossible to produce a bomb, along with rigorous inspections. If the deal collapses, Iran would be free to resume enrichment activities prohibited under the deal.

Trump said he would move to re-impose all sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 deal, not just the ones facing an immediate deadline. This had become known informally as the “nuclear option” because of the near-certainty that such a move would scuttle the deal.

Still, the administration planned to allow a grace period of at least three months and possibly up to six months so that businesses and governments can wind down operations that will violate the re-imposed U.S. sanctions.

A slower withdrawal process could allow more room for Trump to reverse course later and decide to stay — if he secures the additional restrictions on Iran that European nations tried unsuccessfully to negotiate to prevent him from withdrawing. Indeed, as administration officials briefed congressional leaders about Trump’s plans Tuesday, they emphasized that just as with a major Asia trade deal and the Paris climate pact that Trump has abandoned, he remains open to renegotiating a better deal, one person briefed on the talks said.

Monday, the president attacked John Kerry over a Boston Globe report that the former secretary of state had been privately meeting with foreign officials to strategize on how to keep the U.S. in the deal. Kerry was the lead negotiator on the deal for the Obama administration.

Depending on how Trump sells it — either as an irreversible U.S. pullout, or one final chance to save it — the deal could ostensibly be strengthened during those six months in a last-ditch effort to persuade Trump to change his mind. The first 15 months of Trump’s presidency have been filled with many such “last chances” for the Iran deal in which he’s punted the decision for another few months, and then another.