WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Donald Trump is to decide the fate of the landmark Iran nuclear deal Tuesday, announcing his verdict on US sanctions relief underpinning the international accord, which he has repeatedly and harshly criticized.
Officials and diplomats expect the pugnacious US leader to ignore last-ditch European pleas and move to withdraw the United States from a 2015 agreement, which he insists was “very badly negotiated.”
Trump has unsuccessfully demanded changes to the Obama-era deal, which saw Iran mothball a suspected nuclear weapons program in return for massive sanctions relief.
Months of intensive talks between the United States and European allies now appear deadlocked, with Berlin, London and Paris refusing to rewrite the agreement.
The president tweeted he would announce his decision at 2:00 pm (1800 GMT), even as British foreign secretary Boris Johnson shuttled around Washington trying to reach a last-gasp breakthrough.
One European diplomat echoed the mood around foreign embassies in Washington, saying “there is plainly a difference of opinion,” acknowledging that Trump seems poised to walk away from the accord.
Concretely, the US president will decide whether to continue to waive sanctions on Iran’s central bank and its oil sector dealings, a key pillar of the agreement.
“I would like to pretend to you today that I feel that there is a chance of the existing (deal) remaining intact,” the European official said. “I think that that chance may exist but it is very small.”
A French official said President Emmanuel Macron left the United States last week after a similar diplomatic offensive “convinced that we would get a negative decision.”
As the world waited to hear Trump’s decision, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said Tuesday that Paris will continue to push for a broader deal aimed at ensuring Iran complies with the deal whether the United States participates or not.
“This agreement is not the best one in the world,” Parly told RTL radio. “But without being perfect, it still has its virtues… and they (the Iranians) are respecting it,” she said.