Trump set to withdraw Iran deal backing
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US President Donald Trump will unveil a more aggressive strategy to check Iran’s growing might on Sunday, withdrawing presidential backing for a landmark nuclear deal and targeting the country’s missile program and militia proxies.
During a White House speech at 12:45 p.m. (1645 GMT), Trump is expected to declare a 2015 deal, which curbed Iran’s nuclear program in return for massive sanctions relief, is no longer in the US national interest.
Officials say he will not kill the deal outright, or designate Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization — a move that would almost certainly bring retaliatory action.
Instead he will leave US lawmakers to decide whether they want to kick away one of the accords foundational pillars by “snapping back” sanctions against Iran.
Many lawmakers are waiting to see how Trump presents the choice, with no clear consensus even among Republicans on whether to torpedo the agreement.
In a statement to AFP, leading Republican Senator Marco Rubio described the accord as “fatallyflawed” and said he was open to legislation that would “substantially improve America’s ability to counter Iran’s nuclear, terrorism, militancy and regional threats.”
While Trump’s decision is largely rhetorical — designed to meet a key campaign pledge — it risks unpicking years of careful diplomacy and increasing Middle East tensions.
The agreement was signed between Iran and six world powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US — at talks coordinated by the European Union.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spent much of the week on the telephone, talking through a decision that is deeply unpopular with allies.
UN nuclear inspectors say Iran is meeting the technical requirements of its side of the bargain, dramatically curtailing its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
So, while US officials still insist that “America First” does not mean “America Alone,” on this issue they are starkly isolated. The other signatories all back the deal.
People take part in a protest calling for the Trump administration to continue diplomacy with Iran, near the White House in Washington on Wednesday. AFP