(Bloomberg) -- Rudy Giuliani suggested that Donald Trump plans to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear agreement, pointing to the presence in the president’s inner circle of new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and long-time foreign policy hawk John Bolton.
“We have a president who is tough,” Giuliani said Saturday at a conference organized in Washington by the Organization of Iranian-American Communities. “We have a president who is as committed to regime change as we are.”
“What’s going to happen to that agreement?” Giuliani asked the group, one of several Iranian organizations outside the country dedicated to toppling its government. He then pantomimed spitting on a piece of paper meant to represent the 2015 nuclear accord, drawing raucous cheers.
Giuliani was hired in April to be Trump’s lawyer in the matter of the special counsel probe into the 2016 election and possible collusion with Russia by members of Trump’s campaign.
Talking to reporters after the speech, Giuliani said he based his comments on the known positions on Iran of Trump, Bolton and Pompeo, not on any special information gleaned from within the White House about the administration’s plans.
Trump has hinted he may exit the accord by a May 12 deadline, calling it “a horrible agreement for the United States.” Iran is ruling out new talks, calling the current agreement “non-negotiable.” America’s European allies continue to back it, saying the deal has been essential to reining in Iran’s nuclear program.
Still, that deadline may not mean an immediate termination to negotiations over the agreement. While Pompeo, sworn in as the top U.S. diplomat in late April, hasn’t promised a grace period, he said at his Senate confirmation hearing in April that “even after May 12 there is still much diplomatic work to be done.”
Speaking in the Middle East on April 29, Pompeo called Iran “the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world,” and reiterated his boss’s message: that the U.S. will pull out of the nuclear accord if the “flawed” deal can’t be fixed to its satisfaction.
Bolton, who was named national security adviser in March, has called the Iran agreement a “strategic debacle.” He said on Fox News in January that the deal should be scrapped, economic sanctions reimposed, and regime change encouraged.
For weeks, U.S. negotiators have been meeting with allies France, the U.K. and Germany in an effort to reach a consensus on side agreements responding to U.S. concerns. They say they’ve made progress on some elements but haven’t crossed the finish line on the “sunset clauses” in the current deal -- under which many of the key provisions expire in coming years and Iran is allowed to start enriching uranium to high levels again.
Under the agreement made in 2015, Iran would redesign, convert, and reduce its nuclear facilities while accepting inspections in return for an end to all nuclear-related economic sanctions, boosting oil revenue and regaining frozen assets.
The deal was heavily criticized by Republicans at the time it was finalized as being soft on Iran, while Democrats applauded the relief it provided from a potential nuclear-armed nation hostile to the U.S.
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