Trump warns Iran against restarting nuclear program

US President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 24, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump has called on Iran not to restart its nuclear program, shortly after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Washington against violating the 2015 nuclear deal, saying any failure to respect the multinational agreement would entail “grave consequences.”

Trump made the comments on Tuesday at a ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron who came to Washington, DC, to save the 2015 historic nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran.

"If they restart their nuclear program, they will have bigger problems than they have ever had before," Trump said.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the historical agreement, which was struck between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group of countries, including the US.

The deal removed nuclear-related sanctions against Tehran, which, in turn, changed some aspects of its nuclear energy program. All other signatories have warned the US against quitting the deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Trump has said unless the European parties “fix the terrible flaws” of the accord by May 12, Washington would withdraw from the deal. Iran has ruled out any renegotiation.

The Iranian president on Tuesday said that “we are standing by our commitments stronger than ever before. However, anyone seeking to betray their commitments to us should know that the grave consequences of such a move will affect themselves.”

US President Donald Trump (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron stop to make remarks to the media in the Colonnade before heading to the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 24, 2018. (Photo by AFP) 

In his meeting with Macron in the White House, Trump described the nuclear agreement as a "terrible deal" that was "insane" and "ridiculous," saying it did not deal with ballistic missiles and Iran's activities in the Middle East.

"We made this terrible deal but we're going to discuss it," he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that Tehran has a number of options ready at hand for responding to the possible US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, including the resumption of the activities it halted under the multilateral accord “at a much greater speed.”

“We have put a number of options for ourselves, and those options are ready, including options that would involve resuming at a much greater speed our nuclear activities,” he told CBS News on Sunday.

“Those options are ready to be implemented and we will make the necessary decision when we see fit,” he added.

On Monday, Zarif said the Trump administration has violated almost all of its commitments as part of the deal, and that Washington’s withdrawal would only set Iran free of any obligation to stay in the accord.

Macron visited Washington hoping to persuade Trump not to pull the US out of the nuclear deal.

He told Trump on Tuesday the nuclear accord is part of a "broader picture" of security in the Middle East region.

"On Iran, we must contextualize this subject within the challenges of the region. There is the situation in Syria, there is security in the entire region and I think, in any case, we share a common goal of avoiding an escalation and proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region. So the question is what is the best path," Macron said.

The French president's visit comes ahead of the next month deadline for Trump to decide whether to extend waivers of economic sanctions on Iran, a US commitment under the agreement.

In January, Trump did extend those waivers, but said the European signatories should fix “the terrible flaws” of the accord by May 12 or he will refuse to do that again.

Earlier this month, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said the United States would get out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on the Islamic republic.

She accused Iran of supporting terrorism and violating the terms of the historic nuclear agreement and went on to say that the Europeans are closing their eyes on this but added that the United States would not do that.

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