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Trump Abandons Iran Nuclear Deal He Long Scorned

May 9, 2018

Three times previously, the president’s aides had persuaded him not to dismantle the Iran deal. But Mr. Trump made clear that his patience had worn thin, and with a new, more hawkish cohort of advisers — led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the national security adviser, John R. Bolton — the president faced less internal resistance than earlier in his administration.

While Mr. Trump had long scorned the Iran deal, threatening repeatedly to rip it up during the 2016 presidential race, his impulse to act now was reinforced by what he views as the success of his policy toward North Korea. He has told aides and foreign leaders that his policy of maximum pressure had forced Mr. Kim to the bargaining table, and that a similar policy of overwhelming pressure would enable the United States to extract a better deal from Iran.

As Mr. Trump abandoned one diplomatic project, he accelerated another — announcing that Mr. Pompeo was flying to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, to continue discussions with Mr. Kim about the upcoming summit meeting. He expressed hope that three Americans who are detained in the North would be released soon.

Trump Abandons Iran Nuclear Deal He Long ScornedTrump Abandons Iran Nuclear Deal He Long Scorned

“The message to North Korea,” Mr. Bolton told reporters, “is the president wants a real deal.”

He rejected the suggestion that the United States could not be trusted to keep its agreements when political winds change. “Any nation reserves the right to correct a past mistake,” Mr. Bolton said, citing President George W. Bush’s decision to withdraw from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty in 2001.

The Trump administration, he said, would continue to work with Europeans to pressure the Iranians. He dismissed those who said the United States was on a path to war with Iran, though he did not present any new diplomatic initiatives. Another senior administration official acknowledged that there was no Plan B.

Months of intense negotiations with the Europeans to keep the accord in place collapsed over Mr. Trump’s insistence that the limits placed by the agreement on Iran’s nuclear fuel production were inadequate. Under the provisions of the deal, those limits, or “sunset clauses,” were to expire in 2030 — 15 years after the deal was signed.

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