Last month, President Trump went back on a long-running threat to disavow the 2015 Iran nuclear deal by declaring his intention to decertify, but not cancel, the agreement. He stated that “Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal,” in a press conference given on Oct. 13. For now, he is directing the deal to Congress. Doing so would leave Congress to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran, ultimately blowing up the agreement.
Getting Congress, already deeply divided on the Iran deal, to agree on further legislation is a difficult task. Enacting new legislation on the agreement would require 60 votes in the Senate, meaning Republicans would need to pick up some Democratic support. “In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated,” Trump said.
The pact — signed between the United States, Iran, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, the European Union, France and Germany — has stopped Iran from working on a nuclear weapon in exchange for lifting harmful economic sanctions.
Trump denounced the Iranian government, saying it financed terrorist groups, imprisoned Americans, plotted attacks on troops and provoked civil wars in Iraq, Yemen and Syria. “Given the regime’s murderous past and present,” he said, “we should not take lightly its sinister vision for the future.” He also declared at the White House, “We will not continue down a path whose inevitable result is more violence, more chaos and Iran’s nuclear breakout”.
The president ridiculed the deal as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” However, he added, “What’s done is done, and that’s why we are where we are.”
Despite his comments on the pact, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and other senior members of the Trump administration argued that Trump wants to “stay in the deal” and improve it.
“We’re in the deal to see how we can make it better. And that’s the goal. It’s not that we’re getting out of the deal. We’re just trying to make the situation better so that the American people feel safer,” Haley said. “Our European allies need to remember they’re not the ones the threats are coming to.”
The president faced a growing number of outside voices urging him not to withdraw from the deal, including Ehud Barak, the former Israeli prime minister and defense minister known for his belligerent views on Iran.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Theresa May of Great Britain and President Emmanuel Macron of France issued a rare joint objection of Trump’s decision.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin of Russia, warned that any decision to leave the deal ‘‘would undoubtedly hurt the atmosphere of predictability, security, stability, and nonproliferation in the entire world.’’
Trump defended his declaration by claiming that Iran has “multiple violations of the agreement,” but the International Atomic Energy Agency, which conducts strict monitoring procedures, says Iran is honoring its side of the accord. America’s allies and Iran have said they will continue to honor the deal as written.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said his country ‘‘will continue to stick to’’ the nuclear deal, calling it ‘‘much stronger’’ than Trump thinks. ‘‘The U.S. is more lonely than ever about the deal,’’ he added. The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, defended the deal and used strong language to accuse U.S. President Donald Trump, saying, “I don’t want to waste time on answering the rants and whoppers of the brute U.S. president.”