Vietnam Time

5/9/2018 8:50:05 AM

Trump announces US withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal, evoking concern

U.S. President Donald Trump said on May 8th that he will withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, a landmark international agreement signed in 2015.

U.S. President Donald Trump announces the United States withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, reached by the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany) and Iran in 2015.

In a televised speech at the White House, Trump announced the exit, adding he will not sign the waiver of nuke-related sanctions against Iran, re-imposing sanctions lifted under the accord.

Moments later, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voiced "deep concern" over Trump's decision to pull America out of the Iran nuclear deal.

"I am deeply concerned by today's announcement that the United States will be withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and will begin reinstating U.S. sanctions (against Iran)," said Guterres in a statement, using the official name of the July 2015 agreement between Iran and the six world powers of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

"I call on other JCPOA participants to abide fully by their respective commitments under the JCPOA and on all other (U.N.) member states to support this agreement," said Guterres.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on May 8th that the Islamic republic will remain in the nuclear deal with other signatories of the JCPOA without the United States.

"From this time on, the nuclear deal is an accord between Iran and five countries," Rouhani said in live speech broadcast from state TV.

Iran proved that it has been committed to its international obligations, Rouhani said, adding that "our experience shows that over the past 40 years the United States has never been reliable vis-a-vis its commitments."

The 2015 agreement, worked out by the United States, five other world powers and Iran, lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program. The pact was designed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

But Trump complains that the accord, the signature foreign policy achievement of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, does not address Iran's ballistic missile program, its nuclear activities beyond 2025 or its role in conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

In his speech on May 8th, Trump repeated his tough stance on the deal, or the JCPOA, saying it had failed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons or supporting terrorism in the region.

The JCPOA "allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium" and "lifted crippling economic sanctions" on Iran in exchange for "very weak limits" on its nuclear activity, "and no limits at all on its other malign behavior," he said.

"The United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal" and impose "the highest level" of economic sanctions on Tehran, he said.

At the end of his remarks, he signed a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iran.

After Trump's speech, the White House said in an emailed message to the media that Trump has "directed his administration to immediately begin the process of re-imposing sanctions related to the JCPOA," and "the re-imposed sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran's economy, such as its energy, petrochemical, and financial sectors."

"Those doing business in Iran will be provided a period of time to allow them to wind down operations in or business involving Iran," it added. "Those who fail to wind down such activities with Iran by the end of the period will risk severe consequences."

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said in an announcement that "Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is taking immediate action to implement the President's decision."

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the United States "will be working with our allies to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian threat."

In response, former U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration brokered the deal, said in a Facebook post Trump's announcement is "so misguided" and "a serious mistake."

"The JCPOA is working," Obama said, adding that "the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East" without the landmark deal.

Trump's decision intensifies the strain on the trans-Atlantic alliance since he took office 16 months ago, especially after European leaders made trips to Washington and repeatedly appealed to Trump to preserve the deal.

The Trump administration kept the door open to negotiating another deal with allies, but it is far from clear if the Europeans would go for that and if they could convince Iran to accept it.

The leaders of Britain, Germany and France, which were signatories to the deal along with China and Russia, said in a joint statement that Trump's decision was a cause for "regret and concern."

Underscoring the tension in the Middle East, the Israeli military went on high alert on May 8th for a possible flare-up with neighboring Syria, which is allied to Iran.

Abandoning the Iran pact was one of the most consequential decisions of Trump's high-stakes "America First" policy, which has led him to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, come close to a trade war with China and pull out of an Asian-Pacific trade deal./.

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