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Trump Pulls U.S. from Iran Nuclear Deal; EU Powers Declare They'll Stay

President Trump signs a presidential memorandum on the Iran nuclear deal from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on May 8, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON — Declaring that Iran is eventually “going to want to make a new and lasting deal,” President Trump today signed a presidential memorandum ordering that U.S. nuclear sanctions be reimposed on the Tehran regime and withdrawing America from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

As new National Security Advisor John Bolton watched from the sidelines in the White House Diplomatic Room, Trump stated that while the 2015 P5+1 agreement “was supposed to protect the United States and our allies from the lunacy of an Iranian nuclear bomb,” the deal “allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium and over time reach the brink of a nuclear breakout.”

Bolton afterward stressed to reporters off-camera, “We’re out of the deal. We’re out of the deal.”

“Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie. Last week. Israel published intelligence documents, long-concealed by Iran, conclusively showing the Iranians’ regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons,” Trump said. “The fact is, this was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”

Trump said after negotiations with European allies, who had lobbied the president to stay in the deal, and consulting with Middle Eastern allies it was “clear… that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.”

“American will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction, and we will not allow a regime that chants ‘Death to America’ to gain access to the most deadly weapons on Earth,” he said, touting impending nuclear negotiations with North Korea and vowing to work with allies “to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat.”

“In the meantime, powerful sanctions will go into full effect. If the regime continues its nuclear aspirations, it will have bigger problems than it has ever had before,” Trump added.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said today that “the Americans took wrong actions since the very first day both under Obama and Trump, and they continuously intimidated the investors” who wanted to do business with Iran.

“The Americans have not complied with their undertakings and created distrust on the international scene, an issue that even the Europeans have admitted; therefore, apparently one should speak with the Americans through the language of force and there is no other solution,” Larijani said, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that “with or without sanctions, we have to move in such a direction to use national capabilities.”

Trump noted that Iran’s leaders “will naturally say that they refuse to negotiate a new deal.”

“They refuse, and that’s fine,” he said. “I’d probably say the same thing if I was in their position.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron responded to Trump’s decision in a joint statement of “regret and concern.”

“Together, we emphasize our continuing commitment to the JCPoA. This agreement remains important for our shared security. We recall that the JCPoA was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council in resolution 2231. This resolution remains the binding international legal framework for the resolution of the dispute about the Iranian nuclear program,” they said. “We urge all sides to remain committed to its full implementation and to act in a spirit of responsibility.”

“According to the IAEA, Iran continues to abide by the restrictions set out by the JCPoA, in line with its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The world is a safer place as a result. Therefore we, the E3, will remain parties to the JCPoA. Our governments remain committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld, and will work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure this remains the case including through ensuring the continuing economic benefits to the Iranian people that are linked to the agreement.”

The three leaders urged that the U.S. “ensure that the structures of the JCPoA can remain intact, and to avoid taking action which obstructs its full implementation by all other parties to the deal. ”

“After engaging with the U.S. administration in a thorough manner over the past months, we call on the U.S. to do everything possible to preserve the gains for nuclear non-proliferation brought about by the JCPoA, by allowing for a continued enforcement of its main elements,” May, Macron and Merkel added. “We encourage Iran to show restraint in response to the decision by the U.S.; Iran must continue to meet its own obligations under the deal, cooperating fully and in a timely manner with IAEA inspection requirements. The IAEA must be able to continue to carry out its long-term verification and monitoring program without restriction or hindrance. In turn, Iran should continue to receive the sanctions relief it is entitled to whilst it remains in compliance with the terms of the deal.”

Rouhani said in a televised statement after Trump spoke that Iran’s foreign ministry would be negotiating with the European powers remaining in the deal.

He added that Iran could “start enriching uranium more than before.”

“Iran is a country that adheres to its commitments and the U.S. is a country that has never adhered to its commitments,” he said.

President Obama posted a statement calling Trump’s move “misguided.”

“I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake. Without the JCPOA, the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East,” Obama warned. “We all know the dangers of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. It could embolden an already dangerous regime; threaten our friends with destruction; pose unacceptable dangers to America’s own security; and trigger an arms race in the world’s most dangerous region. If the constraints on Iran’s nuclear program under the JCPOA are lost, we could be hastening the day when we are faced with the choice between living with that threat, or going to war to prevent it.”