Trump Drops New Hint He's Likely to Quit Iran Nuclear Accord

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump offered new hints he’s likely to quit the international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program next month, potentially scrapping a deal struck by his predecessor that he opposed before taking office and has criticized often since.

“The Iran deal is coming up. It’s probably another month or so, and you’re going to see what I do,” Trump told reporters at a White House meeting Tuesday with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. “But Iran has not been treating that part of the world or the world itself appropriately. A lot of bad things are happening in Iran.”

Asked if the U.S. should withdraw from the deal, Prince Mohammed said: “We’ll talk about that.”

Trump’s comments marked a second day of tough rhetoric toward Iran -- Saudi Arabia’s regional archrival. On Monday, he used an annual statement marking the Persian holiday of Nowruz to criticize Iran’s government and military leaders with sharp-tongued language rarely seen in a celebratory presidential message.

Trump declined in October to certify that the accord Iran reached in 2015 with the U.S. and five other world powers was in the interests of the U.S. and later announced he would scrap it and reimpose sanctions unless European allies align with Washington “in fixing significant flaws in the deal.”

Effective Deadline

Trump has in effect given them a deadline of May 12, the next time he’s due to decide whether to waive sanctions.

Trump has said steps must be taken to stop Iran’s development of its ballistic missile program and its expanding influence in the Middle East -- issues that aren’t covered in the nuclear agreement. Iran ’s missile program is under separate U.S. sanctions.

Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who leads the Foreign Relations Committee, said this week that he believed Trump would pull the U.S. out of the agreement.

“Right now it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be extended,” Corker said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program.

In his message on Nowruz, Trump said a proud nation that “has overcome great challenges,” now faces another: “rulers who serve themselves instead of serving the people.”

Trump also announced that the Treasury Department would issue guidance “reaffirming America’s support for the free flow of information to the citizens of Iran” and that the U.S. would hold its government accountable for cyber-attacks abroad.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded with a tweet that appeared to attack Trump and his visitor, the Saudi crown prince.

“With millennia of civilization, Iranians have the historical depth to ignore the absurd insults of an arriviste leader one whose entire command of history, politics and diplomacy can be condensed into 280 characters,” Zarif said Tuesday on Twitter. “But even so, still superior to his juvenile royal stooge.”

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