President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from an international agreement aimed at controlling Iran’s nuclear program.
The Iranian government agreed to the deal with the U.S., Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany in 2015.
Since then, Trump has criticized the deal, calling it “very badly negotiated.”
Speaking in the White House on Tuesday, the president said that Iran was responsible for unrest throughout the Middle East.
Trump accused Iran of being “the leading state sponsor of terror,” saying it supported groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Taliban. But he added that, “No action taken by the regime has been more dangerous than the pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
Trump said that Iran’s leaders had refused to renegotiate the nuclear deal. Yet the U.S. leader suggested that he is “willing, ready and able” to negotiate a new deal.
The president said he is re-establishing the “highest levels of economic sanctions” on Iran.
For years, the U.S. government used sanctions targeted at Iran’s oil industry and central bank. The sanctions were no longer enforced after the nuclear deal took effect. Those measures, including others by the European Union, were meant to pressure Iran to limit its nuclear activities.
The re-establishment of U.S. sanctions on Iran comes when world oil prices are at their highest levels in three years. The nuclear deal had permitted Iran to sell oil to the Western countries.
At the same time, Iran continues to experience economic problems. Unemployment and inflation remain high, while the value of Iranian money has fallen.
A disputed deal on nuclear development
Iran’s government has said that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that Iran is meeting the terms of the deal 10 times.
The European Commission said Tuesday that “the agreement is working and our commitment to continue with implementation remains.”
As recently as last week, Iran threatened the United States if it withdrew from the agreement. However, on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani eased comments. He said his country would continue its “engagement with the world.”
Rouhani also said that if the U.S. does not waive restrictions, “It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this.”
The 2015 agreement is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. It states that Iran would consider restarting sanctions as “grounds to cease performing its commitments” to limit its nuclear development program partly or completely.
In recent weeks, U.S. allies in Europe have urged Trump to keep the existing deal. They have also shown a willingness to talk about Iran’s long distance missile program and activities in the Middle East.
Objections to the deal
Trump has objected to the 2015 agreement for several reasons. He said it does not limit Iran’s development of long distance missiles in any way. The deal ends restrictions on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program after 2025. And it does not deal with Iran’s military activities in Syria, Yemen and other places.
Critics say the deal does not stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and that the country continues to carry out development.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a sharp critic of the deal since it was first announced three years ago. Last week, Netanyahu presented documents, images and other information meant to prove that Iran is still trying to build nuclear weapons.
Withdrawing from the deal could hurt some U.S. companies seeking to do business in Iran. Last year, aircraft maker Boeing delayed plans to supply Iran with more than $16 billion in passenger airplanes.
I’m Mario Ritter.
Ken Bredemeier reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
sponsor –n. person, group or state that provides money for a cause or activity
regime –n. a form of government
pursuit –v. to reach a goal or accomplish something
sanction - n. a measure designed to punish a country for failure to obey international laws or rules
implementation –n. the act of carrying out or doing something
waive –v. to choose not to do or enforce something that otherwise would have to be done or enforced
cease –v. to stop
commitments –n. promises to do something or meet responsibilities