US President Donald Trump holds a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni (unseen) at the White House in Washington, DC, April 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
US President Donald Trump has accused Iran of “not living up to the spirit” of the 2015 nuclear agreement, just two days after his administration certified that Iran was meeting its commitments under the landmark deal.
“I think they are doing a tremendous disservice to an agreement that was signed. It was a terrible agreement, it shouldn’t have been signed, it shouldn’t have been negotiated the way it was negotiated,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni on Thursday.
“They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement, I can tell you that,” the US president added.
Trump said that his administration was analyzing the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), very carefully and would “have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future.”
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the US, France, Britain, Russia and China plus Germany – sealed the JCPOA in July 2015 following 18 months of intense negotiations.
The Islamic Republic undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
As a candidate in the 2016 presidential election, Trump criticized the JCPOA as “the worst deal ever negotiated,” but offered conflicting opinions on whether he would try to “rip it up,” renegotiate its terms or keep it in place.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson notified Congress in a letter on Tuesday that Iran has been complying with its commitments under the JCPOA, and that the administration was considering additional sanctions relief.
The White House must send certification of Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA to Congress every 90 days, and it was the first issued by the Trump administration
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson holds a press conference on Iran in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington, DC on April 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
However, Tillerson stepped up the rhetoric the following day, warning that Iran’s nuclear ambitions could follow those of North Korea.
“An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it,” he said, while accusing Iran of “alarming and ongoing provocations that export terror and violence.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed the “worn-out” accusations from Washington, saying the allegations could not mask its admission of Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement.
Tehran has warned that it would restore its nuclear activities to the pre-JCPOA level, if the US fails to keep its end of the bargain.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has on multiple occasions verified Iran’s adherence to its commitments under the JCPOA.
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