Trump Warns Allies: Fix Iran Deal or the U.S. Will Withdraw

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President Trump once again decided to keep the United States in the Iran nuclear agreement on Friday, but he sent a message to our European partners in the deal at the same time. That message, in no uncertain terms, let the world know that the Trump administration would no longer turn a blind eye to the jarring imbalances in the agreement, regardless of what the consequences of withdrawal might mean. He warned our allies that they were responsible for fixing those problems if they wanted to keep the U.S. as a partner in the deal.

“Despite my strong inclination, I have not yet withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal,” the president said in a statement. “Instead, I have outlined two possible paths forward: either fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw.”

Trump has come under criticism from some who supported his campaign due to his continued refusal to completely scrap the controversial nuclear agreement. While the president has already refused to certify the deal once, he has yet to allow the economic sanctions against Iran (which were waived under the terms of the agreement) snap back into place. In his statement on Friday, Trump said that this was Iran and the P5’s last chance to bring the agreement back to the negotiating table.

“I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal,” Trump said. “This is a last chance. In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately.

“No one should doubt my word,” the president warned. “I said I would not certify the nuclear deal—and I did not. I will also follow through on this pledge.”

Trump went on to outline the specific problems with the agreement he wanted to see fixed, telling Congress that he was willing to sign bipartisan legislation that addressed his concerns. The bill, he said, would need to include a clause demanding the full inspection of sites designated by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the elimination of the sunset date called for in Obama’s agreement. “My policy,” he said, “is to deny Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon – not just for ten years, but forever.”

With this statement, Trump has essentially laid down a “red line” that will be difficult to walk back from the next time certification is on the table. This either means that our allies in the agreement will concede to the president, Trump will break his promise, Iran will back out of the deal, or the agreement itself will dissolve in exactly three months’ time. Trump is saying: If this deal is so important to you, here’s your chance to save it.

We’ll see if the world heeds the call.