US President Donald Trump has “all but decided” to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, but may not pull out completely, Reuters reported Thursday.
Two White House officials and a third source source told the news agency that the president would most likely end the waivers on the Iran sanctions on May 12 when they next come up for renewal. However, an official said it was possible that he would decide on a compromise that was “not a full pullout,” though it was unclear what form such a decision would take.
The source said Trump’s meeting last week with French President Emmanuel Macron may have pushed the president to remain in the deal somehow. Macron made a three-day state visit to Washington primarily to convince Trump to not leave the 2015 deal, negotiated between Tehran and six world powers.
Macron on Wednesday reiterated his commitment to the accord but admitted that it needed strengthening.
“I don’t know what the US president will decide on May 12,” Macron said during a visit to Sydney.
Britain, France and Germany — the three European countries that signed the deal — have repeatedly tried to persuade Trump not to abandon it.
A senior adviser to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced Thursday that Iran will not remain in the deal if the US decides to pull out.
“If the United States withdraws from the nuclear deal, then we will not stay in it,” his foreign policy adviser Ali Akbar Velayati was quoted as saying by state television.
“Iran accepts the nuclear agreement as it has been prepared and will not accept adding or removing anything,” he said.
“Even if countries allied with the United States, especially the Europeans, seek to revise the nuclear agreement… one of our options will be withdrawing from the accord,” Velayati added.
“I just want to say whatever the decision will be, we will have to prepare such a broader negotiation and a broader deal, because I think nobody wants a war in the region, and nobody wants an escalation in terms of tension in the region,” he said.
Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister took to YouTube to criticize Trump’s threat to withdraw from the nuclear deal, and also slammed European talk of a new treaty, saying Iran will not “renegotiate or add onto” the atomic accord.
Mohammad Javad Zarif’s video, which was also posted to Trump’s favorite social media platform, Twitter, appeared to be taking his message to the masses after earlier speaking to news outlets across the US to defend the deal.
The five-minute video showed Zarif behind his desk, delivering his message on the deal. He offers background first about the deal before laying into Trump and criticizing Europe for offering “the United States more concessions from our pocket.”
“On 11 occasions since, the UN nuclear watchdog has confirmed that Iran has implemented all of its obligations,” Zarif, who studied in the US, said in American-accented English. “In contrast, the US has consistently violated the agreement, especially by bullying others from doing business with Iran.”
He lashed out at the European nations who were trying to convince Trump that a new deal could be struck to shore up what the president saw as the weaknesses of the deal.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 3, 2018
“It now appears that the response from some Europeans is to offer the United States more concessions — from our pocket,” Zarif said. “This appeasement entails promises of a new deal that would include matters we all decided to exclude at the outset of our negotiations, including Iran’s defensive capabilities and regional influence.”
“We have not attacked anyone in centuries,” he continued, “but we have been invaded, most recently by Saddam Hussein, who was then backed by the US and its regional allies.”
Zarif added: “Let me make it absolutely clear once and for all: We will neither outsource our security nor will we renegotiate or add onto a deal we have already implemented in good faith.”
There was no immediate response from Washington.
In the video, Zarif also appeared to troll Trump, a real estate mogul, saying: “To put it in real estate terms, when you buy a house and move your family in it or demolish it to build a skyscraper, you cannot come back two years later and renegotiate the price.”
In a possible veiled allusion to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s elaborate Monday night presentation on live television of an intelligence trove on Iran’s shelved nuclear weapons program, Zarif said the US was already breaking the deal it had made, using “cartoonish allegations.”
“Relying on cartoonish allegations, rehashed from more than a decade ago, and dealt with by the IAEA to make a case for nixing the deal has fooled no one,” he said.
Netanyahu said tens of thousands of documents recently recovered by intelligence operatives in Tehran proved his country’s main enemy, Iran, had a secret nuclear weapons program it could put into action at any time.
But some analysts and proponents of the nuclear agreement, including the IAEA, charged with monitoring Iran’s compliance with the 2015 deal, said Netanyahu had presented previously known details and failed to produce evidence that showed Iran was not abiding by the accord.