President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to terminate the Iran nuclear deal if Congress doesn’t strengthen it, warning the agreement was merely a “temporary delay” in Tehran’s quest to obtain nuclear weapons.
In a speech at the c laying out what he called a “new strategy” for dealing with Iran, Trump also accused Iran of violating both the letter and spirit of the deal and said the U.S. would impose new sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s elite security and military organization.
By declining to certify that Iran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, Trump put its future squarely in the hands of Congress, which will now have to decide whether to attach new conditions to the agreement or reimpose sanctions on Iran with regard to the country’s nuclear program. Those sanctions were lifted as part of the agreement, and reimposing them would effectively destroy the deal.
Trump, who throughout his campaign and his presidency has expressed intense disdain for the deal, made clear Friday that he wouldn’t hesitate to cancel it if complications with Congress arose in moving forward on toughening it.
“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, adding that American participation “can be canceled by me, as president, at any time.”
“I can do that instantaneously,” the president told reporters after his speech.
When a reporter reminded Trump he has said that he planned to rip up the deal, he responded: “I may do that. The deal is terrible.”
Trump, in his address, contended that Iran was “not living up the spirit of the deal” — in contrast to a statement from his own secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, on Thursday that the country was “technically compliant” with it.
Trump argued that, under the deal, the U.S. “got weak inspections in exchange for no more than a purely short-term and temporary delay in Iran’s path to nuclear weapons” and that “in just a few years,” Iran “can sprint towards a rapid nuclear weapons breakout.”
He also ripped Iran’s leaders as leading a “fanatical regime” that is spreading “death, destruction and chaos around the globe.”
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SOURCE: NBC News, Adam Edelman