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Trump Accuses Iran of Violating 'Spirit' of Nuclear Deal

The president had been openly critical of the landmark agreement — often referring to it as the “worst deal ever negotiated.”
Image: President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference
President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at the White House in Washington on April 20, 2017.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

Iran is failing to fulfill the "spirit" of its landmark nuclear deal with world powers, President Donald Trump said Thursday days after his chief diplomat said Tehran was meeting the terms of the agreement.

The president had been openly critical of the landmark agreement — often referring to it as the “worst deal ever negotiated” — but his latest remarks did not make clear whether he would abandon the 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,” Trump said at a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentilioni. “They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement, I can tell you that.”

It followed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s announcement Tuesday that, despite Iran’s compliance, the administration had begun a review into whether U.S. commitments under the deal were “vital to the national security interest.”

Tillerson later ticked through a series of alleged abuses by the Islamic Republic, ranging from supporting terrorism, to ballistic missile tests, to detaining U.S. citizens.

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was considered a landmark achievement of the Obama administration. Under the deal, between Iran and six world powers including the U.S., the Islamic Republic would receive sanctions relief in exchange for curbing parts of its nuclear program. The agreement did not address Iran’s support for terrorist organizations or their repeated ballistic missile tests in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

U.S. sanctions against Iran for those activities remained.

Tillerson announced the review Tuesday in a notification to Congress. Congress requires that they be informed every 90 days as to whether Iran is in compliance with the deal. This was the first such notification to be sent since Trump took office.

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The administration is also required to renew waivers to the congressionally-mandated nuclear-related sanctions every four and six months. Without these waivers, the easing of financial restrictions on Iran’s economy agreed to under the deal would cease. One such waiver is required to be signed next month.

The White House has not said how it will proceed but Trump made clear Thursday there were more announcements to come.

“We’re analyzing it very, very carefully and we’ll have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future,” he said.