President Donald Trump vowed to “dismantle” the Iran nuclear deal during his campaign for president.
“My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran,” Trump said in a March 2016 speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Trump spent years condemning the “stupid deal” made by President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry — months prior to the deal and for years after. He mocked it nearly every campaign rally he held around the country, but he rarely spoke about what he would do with the deal when he got into office. Despite several journalists quoting him as saying he would “rip up” the deal, he never actually used those words.
Speaking Friday to reporters, Trump said that he favored a two-step process:
Mr. President, you had said you were going to rip the Iran deal up, and you called it the worst ever.
President Trump: Well, I may do that. I may do that. The deal is terrible. So what we’ve done is, through the certification process, we’ll have Congress take a look at it, and I may very well do that. But I like a two-step process much better.
In 2015, Trump admitted that it was more difficult than simply tearing up the Iran nuclear deal but said he would enforce the troublesome pact.
“As bad as the contract is, I will be so tough on that contract,” he told NBC Host Chuck Todd on Meet the Press in 2015, reminding him that ripping up the deal was “very tough to do.”
Cruz tried to leverage Trump’s rhetoric on the Iran nuclear deal against him during the Republican primary.
“One concern I have with Donald is although his language is quite incendiary, when you look at his substantive policies on Iran he has said that he would not rip up this Iranian nuclear deal,” Cruz said during a March 2016 debate. “I think that’s a mistake.”
But Trump’s position was that of a dealmaker — promising that he would “renegotiate” the deal with Iran’s leaders with tougher terms.
“A Trump presidency will force the Iranians back to the bargaining table to make a much better deal,” Trump wrote in a USA Today op-ed in 2015.