Washington, D.C., USA: The U.S. is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and will reinstate the “highest level” of sanctions, President Trump announced, Tuesday.
“It is clear to me that we cannot prevent a nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current deal. The fact is that this was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never ever been made,’’ Trump said.
The deal, signed in 2015, by Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, placed strict limits on Iran’s nuclear program to keep it from developing nuclear weapons. It required ongoing inspections and the destruction of nuclear equipment. In return, Iran got relief from some economic sanctions.
Six nations signed the deal with Iran — the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia. It was approved by the U.N. Security Council. (It’s titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.)
This was in exchange for commitments to halt what Western powers feared was a nuclear weapons programme.
France, Germany and the UK launched a diplomatic offensive in recent weeks attempting to persuade Trump not to scuttle the deal which aims to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Trump said he opposed the agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA), during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Since taking office, he has repeatedly threatened to pull the U.S. out of the pact, recently calling it a “horrible deal’’.
Over the years, Congress has passed numerous sanctions against Iran but given the president the power to waive their enforcement. They come up for waiver or renewal every few months, and the next deadline is Saturday. Under its part of the bargain in the deal, the U.S. has been waiving some of the sanctions — that is, kept them from being enforced — repeatedly.
Trump today said he would not issuing the waivers, meaning they would be reimposed on Iran.
If they were reimposed, they could making it harder for countries or companies buying oil from Iran and their associated U.S. banks and markets.
Economic sanctions are complicated and the details have to be spelled out in U.S. Department of the Treasury regulations. In the past, the oil sanctions still allowed countries to continue buying oil, with some limits, from Iran. And certain types of industries can be exempted from sanctions.
If that’s something Trump has in mind, it might soften the blow for U.S. allies — and for Iran.
Trump and opponents to the deal say it is flawed because it gives Iran access to billions of dollars but does not address Iran’s support for extremist groups. They note it also doesn’t curb Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and that the deal phases out by 2030. They say Iran has lied about its nuclear program in the past.
Deal supporters say it keeps Iran from building nuclear weapons and that will make it easier to deal with Iran’s other behavior around the region — better to have an Iran without nukes than with them, in other words. They say evidence that Iran has lied in the past makes it all the more necessary to have a deal that keeps inspectors on the ground in Iran. They say ending the deal could prompt Iran to develop nuclear weapons and even set off a nuclear race in the Mideast.
The International Atomic Energy Commission, which enforces the deal, and U.S. officials have said Iran is complying with its terms.