Trump says US will terminate Iran nuclear deal if he can't reach solution with Congress, allies

Key Points
  • The United States will terminate the Iran nuclear deal if it cannot agree to a solution with Congress and U.S. allies.
  • The administration is launching a new strategy to contain Iran, including a diplomatic push to augment the 2015 nuclear accord negotiated between Iran and six other nations.
Trump: We cannot and will not certify Iran nuclear deal
Trump: We cannot and will not certify Iran nuclear deal

President Donald Trump on Friday said he will scrap the Iran nuclear deal if Congress and U.S. allies do not reach a solution under a plan his administration has put forward.

"In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated," Trump said. "It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time."

The Trump administration is expanding its efforts to contain Iran, the administration told reporters in a briefing on Thursday. Trump on Friday confirmed he will start that process by telling Congress the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran is no longer in America's interest.

The announcement sets in motion a high-stakes campaign to "fix" the deal.

Trump outlined the new strategy on Friday, which aims to address not just problems the administration sees in the nuclear deal but also in Iran's ballistic missile program and its role in conflicts throughout the Middle East, issues that were not addressed as part of nuclear negotiations.

Trump: Iran deal allows continued development of nuclear program
Trump: Iran deal allows continued development of nuclear program

The plan includes a diplomatic push to persuade U.S. allies to negotiate a new agreement that would effectively supplement the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

To ratchet up pressure on Iran, the U.S. Treasury Department slapped new sanctions on elements of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a military unit loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Trump said the United States will remain a party to the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 deal that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on the oil-rich nation's nuclear program.

On Friday, Trump alleged that the nuclear deal has enriched Iran while it continues to test ballistic missiles, destabilize the Middle East and fund terrorism. Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, the president must certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with the deal, and that the accord remains in the country's national security interest.

"Based on the factual record I have put forward, I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification," Trump said.

"We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran's nuclear breakout," he said.

Trump: We stand in solidarity with Iran's citizens
Trump: We stand in solidarity with Iran's citizens

Trump's refusal to certify Iran gives Congress the option to reimpose those sanctions — which would blow up the deal — but administration has instructed them to hold their fire, Tillerson told reporters on Thursday.

Instead, the White House proposes amending the Iran Review Act to establish a series of benchmarks, or "trigger points," that would automatically restore sanctions if Iran crosses one of the red lines.

Support from Congress will "strengthen" the diplomatic effort to bring U.S. allies on board, according to Tillerson.

The administration will push Europeans to place new sanctions on Iran in response to its ballistic missile program, Tillerson said. It will also work with partners to lay the groundwork for a complementary international deal with Iran, which would address what happens when certain provisions of the existing accord expire and how to gain access to military sites currently off limits in Iran.