Donald Trump has announced the US is to pull out of the landmark nuclear deal with Iran – demolishing a Obama-era agreement and leaving the US isolated on the world stage.
The US President said he will not extend waivers on sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear programme, and said he would impose the “highest level” of economic punishment on the country, as he blasted a “regime of great terror”.
Hitting out at the “horrible, one-sided deal that should have never ever been made”, Trump said at the White House: “I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
“In a few moments, I will sign a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating US nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime.
“We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanctions.”
Trump said the deal was a “great embarrassment” to him and warned it would lead to an “arms race” in the Middle East.
He said: “The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen.
“In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapon.”
He said: “The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them.”
Trump also warned other countries not to help the Iranian government.
He added: “As we exit the Iran deal we will be working with our allies to find a real, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Iran nuclear threat.”
EXPLAINED: What is the Iran nuclear deal?
Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in a 2015 deal struck with the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany.
Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Tehran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons.
Why did Iran agree to the deal?
It had been hit with devastating economic sanctions by the United Nations, United States and the European Union that are estimated to have cost it tens of billions of pounds a year in lost oil export revenues. Billions in overseas assets had also been frozen.
Why is it under threat?
The deal was the key foreign policy achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency, making it an immediate target for successor Donald Trump.
On the presidential campaign trail Mr Trump made his opposition clear and then continued to make threats about pulling out of the “worst” deal the US has “ever” signed up to because of its “disastrous flaws”.
The next deadline in the US for waiving sanctions is May 12 but Mr Trump announced on Monday that he would reveal his decision today.
What is Britain’s position?
The Government does admit the deal is not perfect as it fails to cover areas such as ballistic missiles and is time-limited, but insists it is the option with the “fewest disadvantages”.
Germany, France and the United Nations all urged the US not to withdraw, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson making a last-ditch attempt to preserve the deal during a trip to Washington on Monday.
What happens now the United States has pulled out?
Iran has warned the move effectively amounts to “killing the deal”.
For the Europeans, Trump’s withdrawal constitutes a dispiriting proof that trying to appease the mercurial American president is a futile exercise.
The three EU members of the deal — the UK, France and Germany – were insistent the deal should remain.
French President Emmanuel Macron immediately condemned the move to leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
It was followed by a joint statement from Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Macron, who said Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal was a matter of “regret and concern”.
They said: “Together, we emphasise our continuing commitment to the JCPoA. This agreement remains important for our shared security.
“We urge all sides to remain committed to its full implementation and to act in a spirit of responsibility.
Former President Barack Obama, who touted the Iran deal as one of his chief foreign policy accomplishments, put out a statement criticising Trump’s decision to undo the agreement.
“Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies, and an agreement that our country’s leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated,” Obama said.
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, has said that, if negotiations fail over the nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic will enrich uranium “more than before… in the next weeks”.
Even Trump’s secretary of state and the UN say that Iran is in compliance with the deal.
But the US President has sided with critics – such as Israel, the Gulf Arab states and many Republicans – who say it is a giveaway to Tehran that ultimately paves the path to a nuclear-armed Iran several years in the future.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised Trump’s decision, saying the accord was a “recipe for disaster”.