US President Donald Trump announced the US is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. Sanctions will be reimposed within 90 days.

President Donald Trump signs a Presidential Memorandum on the Iran nuclear deal from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 8, 2018, in Washington.
President Donald Trump signs a Presidential Memorandum on the Iran nuclear deal from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 8, 2018, in Washington. (AP)

President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday the US will pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran, declaring he was making the world safer but dealing a profound blow to allies and deepening the president's isolation on the world stage.

"The United States does not make empty threats," he said in a televised address from the White House.

Trump said the 2015 agreement, which included Germany, France and Britain, was a "horrible one-sided deal that should never ever have been made." He added that the United States "will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction."

Trump's decision means Iran's government must now decide whether to follow the US and withdraw or try to salvage what's left of the deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he was sending his foreign minister to the countries remaining in the accord but warned there was only a short time to negotiate with them and his country could soon "start enriching uranium more than before."

French President Emmanuel Macron said his country, Britain and Germany all regretted Trump's decision.

The administration said it will reimpose nuclear sanctions on Iran immediately but allow grace periods for businesses to wind down activity.

The Treasury Department said there will be "certain 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods" but didn't specify which sanctions would fall under which timelines. The treasury said at the end of those periods, the sanctions will be in "full effect."

TRT World's Tetiana Anderson has this report from Washington DC.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said nobody should sign contracts for new business with Iran.

In his remarks, Trump blasted the deal as "defective at its core." As evidence, he cited documents recently released by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a leading critic of the deal.

Netanyahu last week unveiled documents seized by Israeli intelligence showing Iran had attempted to develop a nuclear bomb in the previous decade, especially before 2003. Although he gave no explicit evidence that Iran violated the 2015 deal, he said Iran had clearly lied in the past and could not be trusted. Iran has denied ever pursuing nuclear arms

The Iran agreement, struck in 2015 by the United States, other world powers and Iran, lifted most US and international sanctions against the country. In return, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program making it impossible to produce a bomb, along with rigorous inspections.

TRT World's Harry Horton weighs in on Trump's decision from Washington DC.

Last-minute diplomacy

In a burst of last-minute diplomacy, punctuated by a visit by Britain's top diplomat, the deal's European members gave in to many of Trump's demands, according to officials, diplomats and others briefed on the negotiations. Yet they still left convinced he was likely to reimpose sanctions.

Trump spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese leader Xi Jinping about his decision on Tuesday. The British foreign secretary travelled to Washington this week to make a last-minute pitch to the US to remain in the deal, according to a senior British diplomat. The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the British objective will remain to uphold and maintain the deal.

Hours before the announcement, European countries met to underline their support for the agreement. Senior officials from Britain, France and Germany met in Brussels with Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi.

If the deal collapses, Iran would be free to resume prohibited enrichment activities, while businesses and banks doing business with Iran would have to scramble to extricate themselves or run afoul of the US American officials were dusting off plans for how to sell a pullout to the public and explain its complex financial ramifications.

Many doubts have surfaced over whether the deal can be reviewed. Dana Lewis explains why.

Concerned

In Iran, many were deeply concerned about how Trump's decision could affect the already struggling economy. In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani sought to calm nerves, smiling as he appeared at a petroleum expo. He didn't name Trump directly, but emphasised that Iran continued to seek "engagement with the world."

"It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this," Rouhani said.

Although the US and Europeans made progress on ballistic missiles and inspections, there were disagreements over extending the life of the deal and how to trigger additional penalties if Iran were found violating the new restrictions, US officials and European diplomats have said. The Europeans agreed to yet more concessions in the final days of negotiating ahead of Trump's decision, the officials added.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies