May 8 (UPI) — President Donald Trump will announce Tuesday whether to remain in the Iran nuclear deal — a decision that could increase isolation between the United States and nations aligned against Tehran restarting its nuclear program.
Trump had set a May 12 deadline to decide whether to recertify the 2015 agreement. He will announce his decision at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
The president is largely expected to withdraw the United States from the pact, although it’s unclear how quickly and widely he would reimpose economic sanctions against Tehran. Many European powers are hoping to stick with the deal even if the United States pulls out.
Trump has long weighed withdrawing from the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, and has been a relentless critic of the Obama-era agreement. He’s described the agreement, which lifted sanctions on Iran in return for limits on its nuclear program, as “terrible” and has said it contains “disastrous flaws.” The multilateral agreement was also approved by China, Russia, Germany, France, Britain and the European Union.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the only countries that disapprove of the deal are Israel and Saudi Arabia.
“We are determined to make sure [Iran] never possesses a nuclear weapon,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Saudi Arabia last week. “The Iran deal in its current form does not provide that assurance.”
Pompeo, who called Iran the “greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world,” said the United States would be prepared to “stand with Saudi Arabia” and was “deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats toward Israel.”
“Iran has only behaved worse since the deal was approved,” Pompeo said.
Rouhani said Iran seeks “constructive” and “win-win” relations with the world, but will continue down the path of development at home regardless of any sanctions.
Despite support from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed to nix the deal, many European powers, China and Russia have encouraged Trump to stick with the agreement.
A succession of European leaders, including French president Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, have all visited the White House in recent weeks to persuade Trump to stick with the accord.
France said it will continue to push for a broader deal with Iran, “whether the United States participates or not,” France’s Defense Minister Florence Parly said Tuesday, noting the Iranians are “respecting” the agreement. Monday, Germany said it would remain with the agreement.
“We don’t think there is any justifiable reason to pull out of this agreement and we continue to make the case for it to our American friends,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
Russia has been an adamant supporter of the deal, with the Kremlin noting the deal “must be strictly observed by all signatories.”
China and India are also expected to resist any unilateral American action, as both nations are the world’s two top buyers of Iranian crude oil.
“With trade skirmishes between the U.S. and China and all kinds of political issues, I see the resistance from Chinese crude buyers to comply [to U.S. sanctions against Iran],” Victor Shum, vice president of the energy group at IHS Markit, told CNBC.