President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced that the United States will "withdraw" from the Iran nuclear deal, promising to re-impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic lifted under the accord.
"The Iran deal is defective at its core," Trump said from the White House's Diplomatic Room. "If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen: in just a short period of time, the world's leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world's most dangerous weapons."
Recent Stories in National Security
"Therefore, I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal," Trump continued. "We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction. Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States."
After his remarks, Trump signed a presidential memorandum "to begin reinstating U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime."
Trump said during his address that the nuclear accord, which the Obama administration and five other world powers struck with Iran in 2015, does not protect the U.S. and its allies from Iran achieving a nuclear-weapons capability.
"The so-called Iran deal was supposed to protect the United States and our allies from the lunacy of an Iranian nuclear bomb, a weapon that will only endanger the survival of the Iranian regime," Trump said. "In fact, the deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium, and over time, reach the brink of a nuclear breakout. 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 behavior, including its sinister activities in Syria, Yemen, and other places all around the world."
Trump had previously said that he would withdraw from the nuclear deal if the U.S. and its three European allies that helped negotiate the accord—France, Germany, and the United Kingdom—did not address in a side agreement three of Trump's main concerns: Iran's ballistic-missile program, limits on the authority of international inspectors, and the sunset clauses, key restrictions on Tehran's nuclear program that are set to expire in about a decade.
In his remarks on Tuesday, Trump also accused the Iranian regime of "plundering the wealth of its own people" and criticized former President Barack Obama for trusting Tehran and paying it cash as part of the deal.
"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, a great embarrassment to me as a citizen and to all citizens of the United States," Trump said. "A constructive deal could easily have been struck at the time, but it wasn't. At the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program."
Trump said U.S. experts and allies in the Middle East have unity in facing the Iranian threat, despite some European allies' desire to maintain the deal.
"We have also consulted with our friends from across the Middle East," Trump said. "We are unified in our understanding of the threat and in our conviction that Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon. After these consultations, it is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement."
Immediately after the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel backs Trump's move.
"Israel fully supports President Trump's bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran."
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that, while France, Germany, and the U.K. regret Trump's decision, they are ready to "work collectively on a broader framework, covering nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity, and stability in the Middle-East, notably Syria, Yemen, and Iraq."