- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2018

President Trump will announce Tuesday that he is pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, according to multiple reports.

Mr. Trump told French President Emmanuel Macron earlier in the day of his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the deal, The New York Times first reported, citing a person briefed on the conversation.

By quitting the Obama-era agreement, Mr. Trump will set course for the U.S. to reinstate economic sanctions that had been waived under the deal, potentially adding new sanctions against the Islamic regime in Tehran.

SEE ALSO: Trump slams Kerry over ‘possibly illegal’ private talks with Iran

Mr. Trump has called the Obama-era agreement the worst deal ever made and has been threatening to walk away from it since he took office.

The agreement lifted economic sanctions on Iran in return for halting the Islamic regime’s nuclear program until 2025, but concerns continue about Iran’s missile program, support of terrorism and ability to rush into the production of nuclear weapons in seven years.

The president’s decision would buck intense pressure from European leaders to stay in the deal and use it as a foundation for further measures to rein in Iran’s disruptive influence across the Middle East.

SEE ALSO: Trump to John Kerry: ‘You are hurting your country’

Mr. Macron pressed Mr. Trump to stay in the deal last month when visiting the White House, as did German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a separate visit.

France, Germany and the U.K., as well as China and Russia, joined the U.S. in negotiating the deal in 2015.

Earlier Tuesday, Mr. Trump chided former Obama Secretary of State John F. Kerry for engaging in secretive talks with European diplomats to try to rescue the deal he negotiated in 2015.

“John Kerry can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it! Stay away from negotiations John, you are hurting your country!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Mr. Trump’s bold move will force the world to take a fresh look at the deal, with many in the international community hitting the panic button in anticipation that Iran will jump-start its nuclear weapon program.

But it remained to be seen how Iran would react can whether Tehran would stick to the deal with European countries and China.

Iran appeared to bracing for an economic hit if the U.S. restores sanctions.

“It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at a petroleum industry conference in Tehran.

He also stressed that Iran wants to keep “working with the world and constructive engagement with the world,” apparently referring to Europe.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying that if Trump pulled out the deal, he won’t again be able to “reach such a deal,” according to the Associated Press.

In Washington, reaction to Mr. Trump planning to quit the deal was overwhelmingly negative.

“President Trump’s decision to violate the Iran nuclear deal, which has successfully blocked Iran’s potential pathways to a nuclear bomb, is an irresponsible act of foreign policy malpractice,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the independent Arms Control Association.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, tweeted an all-caps message expressing her frustration with Mr. Trump.

“I see lots of smart people making eloquent arguments to why it’s wrong to violate the Iran deal and I just want to add mine,” Ms. Fihn tweeted. “THIS IS SO STUPID! I CAN’T BELIEVE THE REST WORLD HAS TO PUT UP WITH THIS STUFF RIGHT NOW, LIKE WE DON’T HAVE OTHER PROBLEMS ON OUR MIND AT THE MOMENT?”

Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he had always opposed the deal but that quitting now is a huge mistake.

“I have doubts [the deal] will prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon over the long term,” he said. “But I know for certain that pulling out of the deal now will make a nuclear-armed Iran a much more immediate threat,” he said at a hearing on the Iranian threat.

However, Mr. Trump’s expected decision was supported by Jamil Jaffer, founder of the National Security Institute at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.

“The Iran deal was never worth doing for the United States — we gave up too much leverage for too little in gains,” he said. “President Trump would be doing the right thing if he walks away from the deal and returns us to maximum leverage by reimposing sanctions now.”

Mr. Jaffer cited “the complete failure of the deal to address the massive problem of Iran’s malign influence across the region and its support for international terrorism, combined with the deal’s short nuclear sunsets and its weak provisions on advanced uranium centrifuge research, ballistic missile development and testing, and surveillance of prior military nuclear work sites make the deal wholly inconsistent with U.S. national security interests, a fact recognized by the bipartisan majorities in Congress that voted against the deal negotiated by President Obama and his team.”

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