President of the United States Donald Trump announced yesterday that the US will withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, and reimpose “powerful” economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.
A formal nuclear agreement – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – between Iran and P5+1 world powers was signed in Vienna on 14th July 2015, following two years of negotiations.
President Trump said that the US would be “instituting the highest level of economic sanction” against Iran and underlined that sanctions would also apply to other nations that did business with Tehran.
Condemning the JCPOA, he said: “The deal lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for very weak limits on the regime’s nuclear activity — and no limits at all on its other malign behaviour, including its sinister activities in Syria, Yemen, and other places all around the world”.
He added: “At the point when the United States had maximum leverage, this disastrous deal gave this regime — and it’s a regime of great terror — many billions of dollars, some of it in actual cash”.
Click here to read President Trump’s remarks in full.
In January 2018, President Trump warned the EU: “Fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw”.
In response to yesterday’s announcement, Iran said it was preparing to restart uranium enrichment, key for making nuclear weapons, “in the next weeks”, if negotiations with other countries failed.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said: “The US has announced that it doesn’t respect its commitments. I have ordered the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran to be ready for action if needed, so that if necessary we can resume our enrichment on an industrial level without any limitations”. He added that there was a “short time” to negotiate with the countries remaining in the nuclear deal.
Despite issuing strong concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile programme, the UK Government alongside the EU had urged President Trump to keep the nuclear deal.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in response: “Deeply regret US decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. UK remains strongly committed to the JCPOA, and will work with E3 partners and the other parties to the deal to maintain it”.
The Foreign Secretary was in Washington and held talks with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last weekend.
He told Fox and Friends on Fox News that the deal is “working” at its core, and the US and its allies should work to “fix the rest”. Although he said Trump was “right to see the flaws in the deal,” without the accord, “Plan B does not seem, to me, to be particularly well developed at this stage”.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed President Trump’s move. Shortly prior to the announcement, the IDF said forces were in high alert in the Golan Heights and public bomb shelters were opened after identifying “irregular activity of Iranian forces in Syria”.