Trump to withdraw US from Iran nuclear deal

The EU has said it is "determined to preserve" the 2015 deal

Trump to withdraw US from Iran nuclear deal

Picture by: Evan Vucci/AP/Press Association Images

Updated 21.40

Donald Trump has announced his plans to withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal. 

He made the announcement at the White House today after months of speculation about his intentions, slamming the deal as 'disastrous'.

However, the European Union announced its intention to preserve the deal - with Iran also suggesting an agreement could potentially be reached between the remaining countries.

The Iran deal - officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - was agreed in 2015 between Iran and various world powers, including the US, China, Russia and the EU.

Speaking this evening, President Trump claimed the agreement was 'defective at its core' and would not prevent Iran from creating a nuclear bomb.

He said: "I will sign a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating US nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime.

"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 - America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail."

He also claimed the US has 'definitive proof' that the Iranian did not only want a peaceful nuclear progamme, citing Israeli accusations from last week.

Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif had said Benjamin Netanyahu's allegations were old and had already been dealt with by the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

UN and international monitors have repeatedly reported that Iran is sticking to the deal.

International reaction

President Trump's decision comes despite apparent lobbying from EU allies - including recent White House visitors French President Emmanuel Macron and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - who are keen to maintain the arrangement with Iran.

President Macron took to Twitter to react, saying France, Germany and the UK 'regret' the US decision.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said he was 'greatly disappointed' by the US announcement. 

The Tánaiste said: "We share many of the concerns which the US has expressed about other aspects of Iranian policy, but the way to address these is not to move away from the one area where significant positive progress has been made. That remains our view, and I hope that the United States will reconsider this decision.

"I hope that all other parties to the agreement, including Iran but also the EU and others, will continue to implement the agreement. The Middle East, and the world, are safer and more stable with this agreement in operation." 

The EU insisted it was determined to preserve the deal.

Vice President of the EU Commission Federica Mogherini said: "As we have always said, the nuclear deal is not a bilateral agreement and it is not in the hands of any single country to terminate it unilaterally. 

"As long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear related commitments, as it is doing so far, the European Union will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile, also indicated that Iran would remain committed to the deal.

In comments quoted by Reuters, he said: “I have ordered the foreign ministry to negotiate with the European countries, China and Russia in coming weeks.

"If at the end of this short period we conclude that we can fully benefit from the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] with the cooperation of all countries, the deal would remain."

He added: "By exiting the deal, America has officially undermined its commitment to an international treaty.” 

Barack Obama, whose administration negotiated the 2015 deal, said withdrawing is a 'serious mistake'.

File photo. Picture by: Kevin Dietsch/DPA/PA Images

In a lengthy Facebook post, the former US president argued: "Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies, and an agreement that our country’s leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated.

"In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and priorities from one Administration to the next. But the consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers."

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

As part of the deal, the Iranian government agreed to limit its nuclear programme, with the other parties agreeing to lift sanctions on the country in return.

The then US President Barack Obama hailed the deal as "one more chapter in [the] pursuit of a safer and more helpful and more hopeful world".

President Trump has frequently criticised the deal, describing it as "one of the most incompetent ever made".

While he has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the deal, fears he would do so intensified in recent weeks following the appointment of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to senior positions in the administration - with both men widely considered to have 'hawkish' stances on Iran.

Democrat Adam Schiff had earlier warned withdrawing from the deal could harm the planned negotiations with North Korea over its own nuclear programme: