US president has described agreement in recent weeks as an ‘embarrassment’ US withdraws from UN agency Unesco citing the organisation’s ‘anti-Israel bias’
Donald Trump will announce his long-awaited decision on the Iran nuclear deal today:
US president Donald Trump will announce his decision on the Iran nuclear deal today as the president comes under mounting pressure not to abandon the 2015 agreement reached between Iran and world powers.
Mr Trump will address the nation at lunchtime, and is expected to outline his Middle East strategy, including a decision on whether Iran is in compliance with the terms of the agreement. The 2015 deal was aimed at restricting Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the easing of sanctions on the Iranian economy.
Under the terms of the agreement struck by the Obama administration, Congress must be updated every 90 days on Iran’s compliance with the deal. But despite reluctantly certifying Iran several times since his inauguration, Mr Trump has suggested in recent weeks that he is preparing to revoke the agreement, describing the deal as an “embarrassment” to the United States in his speech to the UN General Assembly last month.
In a rare public appearance yesterday, White House chief-of-staff John Kelly said that the president was “deep in thought, to say the least, about the way ahead in Iran”, though he declined to clarify what decision the president would make.
The prospect that the United States could undermine a deal that the previous administration agreed, and which was underpinned by a UN resolution, came as the US announced its withdrawal from the UN agency Unesco.
The department of state announced yesterday it would withdraw from the UN body on December 31st and would remain as an observer thereafter, citing the organisation’s anti-Israel bias and the need for reform.
“This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at Unesco, the need for fundamental reform in the organisation, and continuing anti-Israel bias at Unesco,” the department said in a statement.
The decision is the latest move by the Trump administration to distance itself from multilateral organisations. But it also marks the latest stage in a difficult relationship between the United States and Unesco.
In 2011 the United States cancelled its contribution to the Paris-based agency to protest over Unesco’s decision to admit Palestine as a full member. Further controversy over Unesco’s stance on Israel erupted in 2015 when it designated the holy site of Hebron in the West Bank as a Palestinian World Heritage site.
Unesco’s director-general Irina Bokova, whose term is coming to an end, expressed regret at the American withdrawal in a statement, stating that Unesco’s work to advance literacy and quality education is “shared by the American people”.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump signed an executive order at a ceremony in the White House which may allow small businesses and some individuals to bypass key aspects of the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare system also known as Obamacare.
The order, which will allow the purchase of new cross-state health insurance plans as well as new short-term health insurance plans, represents the most significant effort yet by the administration to unroll Obamacare, and reflects growing frustration on the part of the president with Congress’s failure to repeal and replace Mr Obama’s signature healthcare policy.
The president is ‘deep in thought, to say the least, about the way ahead in Iran’