Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump sharply criticized Iran and the international agreement aimed at curbing its nuclear program Friday, refusing to certify Tehran's compliance and warning the United States could pull out at any time.
These are some key points from his remarks:
- 'Fanatical regime' -
Trump denounced the Iranian government as a "fanatical regime" that backs a wide array of militant groups and laid out a long list of US grievances against Tehran to set the stage for his specific remarks on the nuclear deal.
He described Tehran as "the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," saying it backs Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas and "other terrorist networks," and warning of "the increasing menace posed by Iran."
- 'Multiple violations' -
Trump lambasted the 2015 nuclear deal struck with Iran, Germany, Britain, China, France and Russia as "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into."
He accused Iran of "multiple violations of the agreement," but was light on specific examples.
The president said Iran had on two occasions exceeded the 130-metric-ton limit on heavy water, and that Tehran had "repeatedly" said it would not allow inspectors onto military sites suspected of having been "part of Iran's clandestine nuclear weapons program."
But the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been monitoring Iran's compliance with the deal, said that "the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran... are being implemented," and that it "has had access to all locations it needed to visit."
Trump also cited "many people" who think Tehran "is dealing with North Korea," and said that Iran "continues to fuel conflict, terror, and turmoil throughout the Middle East and beyond."
Neither are part of the legal requirements of the nuclear deal.
- Nuclear deal left hanging -
Trump stopped short of nixing the nuclear deal, instead taking the procedural step of "decertifying" the agreement and leaving its fate in the hands of the Republican-controlled Congress.
"I am directing my administration to work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deal's many serious flaws so that the Iranian regime can never threaten the world with nuclear weapons," he said.
Trump singled out "sunset clauses" that eliminate restrictions on Iran's nuclear program "in just a few years," while citing "insufficient enforcement" and "near total silence on Iran's missile programs."
Iran and other parties to the agreement have said that they are not open to revising the accord.
Trump threatened to scrap the deal if his concerns are not addressed, warning that "our participation can be cancelled by me, as president, at any time."
- Sanctions on Revolutionary Guards -
Trump announced targeted sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards, a key instrument of Tehran's military and foreign policy that the president described as "the Iranian Supreme Leader's corrupt personal terror force and militia."
He said he is authorizing the US Treasury Department to "further sanction the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support for terrorism and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents, and affiliates."
But the US leader backed away from designating the Guards Corps as a terror group, a move that would have triggered a slew of sanctions and almost certain Iranian retribution.