The Latest: Trump announces US withdrawal from Iran deal

6 months 1 week 3 hours ago Tuesday, May 08 2018 May 8, 2018 Tuesday, May 08, 2018 12:36:00 PM CDT May 08, 2018 in News
By: The Associated Press

WASHINGTON— The Latest on President Donald Trump's decision on the Iran nuclear deal (all times local):

2:40 p.m.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, is calling the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal "a mistake of historic proportions."

He said Tuesday that breaking the Iran deal increases the danger that Iran will restart its nuclear weapons program, which threatens Israel and "destabilizes the entire Middle East."

Durbin says Trump's action "isolates the United States from the world at a time when we need our allies to come together to address nuclear threats elsewhere, particularly in Korea."

Trump said earlier Tuesday that "great things" can happen for the Iranian people because of the U.S. withdrawal. The Republican president predicted that Iranians would someday "want to make a new and lasting deal" and that "when they do, I am ready, willing and able."

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2:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump says "great things" can happen for the Iranian people following his announcement that the U.S. was withdrawing from a global nuclear agreement.

Trump predicted Tuesday that Iranians would someday "want to make a new and lasting deal" and that "when they do, I am ready, willing and able."

He added that a new deal could lead to the "peace and stability we all want in the Middle East."

Trump was speaking from the White House when he denounced the previous Iran deal as "defective at its core."

Despite lobbying from European allies, Trump moved forward with his campaign promise to pull out of the President Barack Obama-era agreement.

The Iranians have been sharply critical of the Republican president's plan to withdraw.

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2:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the United States is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, which he is calling "defective at its core."

Trump on Tuesday signed a presidential memorandum withdrawing from the 2015 agreement and he is planning to reinstall sanctions on the Iranian regime. He says in an address to the nation that he will be reinstituting the highest level of sanctions and warning any country not to help the Iranian government.

Trump says America "will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail" and will not allow "a regime that chants 'Death to America'" to get access to nuclear weapons.

The president says he made the decision after consulting with U.S. allies.

2:20 p.m.


President Donald Trump is railing against the Iran nuclear agreement as "a horrible, one-sided deal" based on a lie.

Trump's comments Tuesday come as he announces plans to follow through on his campaign threat to pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran during a televised address at the White House.

Trump says that if he allowed the deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race.

He also says a constructive deal could easily have been struck at the time, but it wasn't. Trump is calling Iran a "regime of great terror."

And he says that "no action taken by the regime has been more dangerous than its pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them."
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2:15 p.m.


Israel's military says forces are on high alert and is urging civilians in the Golan Heights near Syria to prepare bomb shelters.

The military directive Tuesday came "following the identification of irregular activity of Iranian forces in Syria." It said defense systems have been deployed.

The statement came as President Donald Trump was set to announce Tuesday whether the U.S. will exit the 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers.
The possibility of the nuclear deal collapsing has raised concerns it might embolden Iran to strike Israeli targets.

Israel is believed to have been behind recent airstrikes on military bases in Syria that killed Iranian soldiers, prompting Tehran to vow retaliation. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement. It has warned it will not tolerate archenemy Iran establishing itself militarily on its doorstep.
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1:40 p.m.

Iran's state-run news agency is quoting an anonymous official saying President Hassan Rouhani (hah-SAHN' roh-HAH'-nee) will give a televised address after President Donald Trump announces his intention to pull America out of the Iran nuclear deal.

IRNA filed the report late Tuesday, just ahead of Trump's speech from the White House's Diplomatic Room.

IRNA offered no other immediate details.
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12:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump plans to follow through on his campaign threat to pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran, according to two people familiar with his thinking, dealing a profound blow to U.S. allies and potentially deepening the president's isolation on the world stage.

It wasn't immediately clear which sanctions that were lifted under the deal might be quickly reimposed, said the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Trump has several options, and a limited move could leave him more room to potentially stay in the deal after all if other members agree to toughen it.

Administration officials began informing congressional leaders about Trump's plans Tuesday. One person briefed on the talks characterized the president's position as similar to his stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership — that he would pull out but remain open to the possibility of renegotiating a better deal.

In a burst of last-minute diplomacy, punctuated by a visit by Britain's top diplomat, the deal's European members gave in to many of Trump's demands, according to officials, diplomats and others briefed on the negotiations. Yet they still left convinced he was likely to re-impose sanctions and walk away from the deal he has lambasted since his days as a presidential candidate.

The agreement, struck in 2015 by the United States, other world powers and Iran, lifted most U.S. and international sanctions against the country. In return, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program making it impossible to produce a bomb, along with rigorous inspections.

Trump spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese leader Xi Jinping about his decision Tuesday. Macron vigorously supports the deal and tried to persuade Trump to stay committed to it during a visit to Washington last month.

Hours before the announcement, European countries met to underline their support for the agreement. Senior officials from Britain, France and Germany met in Brussels with Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Abbas Araghchi.

If the deal collapses, Iran would be free to resume prohibited enrichment activities, while businesses and banks doing business with Iran would have to scramble to extricate themselves or run afoul of the U.S. American officials were dusting off plans for how to sell a pullout to the public and explain its complex financial ramifications, said U.S. officials and others, who weren't authorized to speak ahead of an announcement and requested anonymity.

Building up anticipation, Trump announced on Twitter he would disclose his decision at 2 p.m. at the White House.

In Iran, many were deeply concerned about how Trump's decision could affect the already struggling economy. In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani sought to calm nerves, smiling as he appeared at a petroleum expo. He didn't name Trump directly, but emphasized that Iran continued to seek "engagement with the world."
"It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this," Rouhani said.

Under the most likely scenario, Trump would allow sanctions on Iran's central bank — intended to target oil exports — to kick back in, rather than waiving them once again on Saturday, the next deadline for renewal, said individuals briefed on Trump's deliberations. Then the administration would give those who are doing business with Iran a six-month period to wind down business and avoid breaching those sanctions.

Depending on how Trump sells it — either as an irreversible U.S. pullout, or one final chance to save it — the deal could be strengthened during those six months in a last-ditch effort to persuade Trump to change his mind. The first 15 months of Trump's presidency have been filled with many such "last chances" for the Iran deal in which he's punted the decision for another few months, and then another.
Other U.S. sanctions don't require a decision until later, including those on specific Iranian businesses, sectors and individuals that will snap back into place in July unless Trump signs another waiver. A move on Tuesday to restore those penalties ahead of the deadline would be the most aggressive move Trump could take to close the door to staying in the deal.

Even Trump's secretary of state and the U.N. agency that monitors nuclear compliance agree that Iran, so far, has lived up to its side of the deal. But the deal's critics, such as Israel, the Gulf Arab states and many Republicans, say it's a giveaway to Tehran that ultimately paves the path to a nuclear-armed Iran several years in the future.

Iran, for its part, has been coy in predicting its response to a Trump withdrawal. For weeks, Iran's foreign minister had been saying that a re-imposition of U.S. sanctions would render the deal null and void, leaving Tehran little choice but to abandon it as well. But on Monday, Rouhani said Iran could stick with it if the European Union, whose economies do far more business with Iran than the U.S., offers guarantees that Iran would keep benefiting.

For the Europeans, a Trump withdrawal would also constitute dispiriting proof that trying to appease him is futile.

The three EU members of the deal — Britain, France and Germany — were insistent from the start that it could not be re-opened. But they agreed to discuss an "add-on" agreement that wouldn't change the underlying nuclear deal, but would add new restrictions on Iran to address what Trump had identified as its shortcomings. Trump wanted to deter Iran's ballistic missile program and other destabilizing actions in the region. He also wanted more rigorous nuclear inspections and an extension of restrictions on Iranian enrichment and reprocessing rather than letting them phase out after about a decade.

Negotiating an add-on agreement, rather than revising the existing deal, had the added benefit of not requiring the formal consent of Iran or the other remaining members: Russia and China. The idea was that even if they balked at the West's impositions, Iran would be likely to comply anyway so as to keep enjoying lucrative sanctions relief.

Although the U.S. and Europeans made progress on ballistic missiles and inspections, there were disagreements over extending the life of the deal and how to trigger additional penalties if Iran were found violating the new restrictions, U.S. officials and European diplomats have said. The Europeans agreed to yet more concessions in the final days of negotiating ahead of Trump's decision, the officials added.

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