US President Donald Trump has indicated that the US is open to working on a new deal to address what he perceives as a major flaw in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed between Iran and five permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, the UK and the US – along with Germany, in 2015.
“It would be possible to do a new deal with new foundations,” Trump said at a press conference he and French President Emmanuel Macron hosted in Washington on 24 April.
Trump singled out the agreement’s failure to address Iran’s ballistic missile programme, which Macron also acknowledged.
“We … wish from now on to work on a new deal with Iran,” said Macron, while warning against a unilateral replacement of the deal.
The French leader said a new deal or solution must involve Russia and Turkey.
Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to minimise or eliminate its stockpile of low-to-medium enriched uranium, among other measures, to ensure non-proliferation of nuclear activities, in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions on the country.
Trump has threatened to reject an extension of the JCPOA by 12 May unless Iran’s ballistic missile programme is addressed.
Iran warned of “severe consequences” if the US withdraws from the deal in response to Trump’s threat that the Islamic Republic “will have bigger problems than they’ve ever had before” if it restarts its nuclear programme.
The departure of Rex Tillerson as US Secretary of State in March sparked fears that the US could pull out of the JCPOA. Trump cited differences of opinion with Tillerson on the Iran issue.
“When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s a terrible deal, I guess he thought it was OK," said Trump. "I wanted to either break it or do something different and he felt a little bit differently."
Tillerson not only favoured a more conciliatory approach to dealing with Iran, he also called on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to ease sanctions on Qatar.
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