Trump 'all but decided' to pull out of Iran nuclear deal

Trump 'all but decided' to pull out of Iran nuclear deal
Photo credit: APTN

US President Donald Trump has all but decided to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord by May 12 but exactly how he will do so remains unclear, two White House officials and a source familiar with the administration's internal debate say.

There is a chance Mr Trump might choose to keep the United States in the international pact under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, in part because of "alliance maintenance" with France and to save face for French President Emmanuel Macron, who met Mr Trump last week and urged him to stay in, the source said.

A decision by Mr Trump to end US sanctions relief would all but sink the agreement and could trigger a backlash by Iran, which could resume its nuclear arms program or "punish" US allies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, diplomats said.

Technically, Mr Trump must decide by May 12 whether to renew "waivers" suspending some of the US sanctions on Iran. One of the White House officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said it was possible Mr Trump will end up with a decision that "is not a full pullout" but was unable to describe what that might look like.

A presentation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday about what he said was documentary evidence of Tehran's past nuclear arms program could give Mr Trump a fresh argument to withdraw, even though United Nations inspectors said Iran has complied with the terms of the deal.

Iran has denied ever seeking nuclear weapons and accuses its arch-foe Israel of stirring up world suspicions against it.

The pact between Iran and six major powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - was among former US President Barack Obama's signature foreign policies but has been described by Mr Trump as "one of the worst deals I have ever witnessed".

The White House official said Mr Trump was "most of the way there toward pulling out of the deal but he hasn't made the decision" and that he "seems poised to do it but until a decision is made by this president it is not final".

Top aides are not seeking aggressively to talk Mr Trump out of withdrawal because he seems intent on it, a second White House official said.

Reuters.