WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump warned Iran on Tuesday against reviving its nuclear program if the United States walks away from the 2015 nuclear deal next month.
“If they restart their nuclear program, they will have bigger problems than they ever had before,” Trump said Tuesday morning, sitting alongside French President Emmanuel Macron in the Oval Office.
Before the two leaders were set to have a bilateral meeting, Trump called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is formally known, a “terrible deal” that was “insane” and “ridiculous.”
The US president criticized the accord for failing to address Iran’s ballistic missile testing or regional activities in Syria or Yemen.
As a P5+1 member and signatory of the international agreement, France has urged Trump not to leave the deal. Two days ago, Macron said he had “no plan B” if the United States exits the pact and throws its sustainability into doubt.
The American president said the two leaders would discuss the Iran deal in their private meeting.
“We made this terrible deal but we’re going to discuss it,” he said.
Macron, for his part, said the deal must be considered in its regional context and broader ramifications for the Middle East.
Trump is threatening to tear up the 2015 agreement aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear efforts unless European capitals agree to supplement it with tougher controls on Tehran’s missile program and future ability to return to nuclear fuel enrichment.
Iran has been upping the rhetoric in return, with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warning Saturday that Tehran was ready to “vigorously” resume uranium enrichment if the US ditched the accord.
Zarif told reporters in New York that Iran is not seeking to acquire a nuclear bomb, but that its “probable” response to a US withdrawal would be to restart production of enriched uranium – a key bomb-making ingredient.
Trump has set a May 12 deadline for the Europeans to “fix” the agreement, which provided for curbs to Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from financial sanctions.
Macron’s visit is to be followed by talks between the US president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday on the Iran deal.
AFP contributed to this report.