WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday on Twitter that he will make his long-awaited decision on whether to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday — days ahead of a key May 12 deadline.
Trump, who has long criticized the multinational deal as being “weak” and the “worst deal ever,” revealed the news via tweet just moments after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrapped up her daily press briefing.
“I will be announcing my decision on the Iran Deal tomorrow from the White House at 2:00pm.,” Trump tweeted.
The missive came amid mounting pressure from European allies — including France, Britain and Germany — for Trump to remain in the deal. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in back-to-back visits to the White House last month pressed Trump to remain in the deal or risk destabilizing the agreement, which is aimed at getting Iran to reduce its nuclear weapon capabilities. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was in Washington on Monday to make a similar appeal, appearing on “Fox & Friends” to try to talk to Trump through one of his favorite television shows, and meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
On the other side, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged Trump to withdraw from the deal, which the Obama administration entered into in 2015. Netanyahu argued recently in a televised speech that Iran had lied “big time” about its nuclear weapons program before signing the deal, which includes the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.
In recent weeks, when Trump has been asked by reporters whether he was leaning toward withdrawing from the deal, he has not signaled at a choice, often responding: “We’ll see.” Trump has said he opposes the deal in part because he believes it does not go far enough in blocking Iran’s long-range missile program.
“I’m not telling you what I’m doing,” Trump told reporters at the White House last week. “A lot of people think they know.”
Trump’s Monday tweet on the Iran deal came hours after the president took aim at former Secretary of State John Kerry via Twitter for engaging in what the president called “Shadow Diplomacy” by holding talks with other foreign officials tied to the Iran deal, in an effort to preserve the agreement.
“The United States does not need John Kerry’s possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy on the very badly negotiated Iran Deal,” Trump tweeted. “He was the one that created this MESS in the first place!”
Kerry, one of the key negotiators of the deal under Obama, has been meeting informally with several of the agreement’s stakeholders to discuss ways to salvage the accord, according to The Boston Globe. The newspaper reported that Kerry had spoken to Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as well as European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and France’s Macron.
Kerry’s spokesman, Matthew Summers, in a statement responding to Trump’s tweet, defended Kerry’s talks with the foreign leaders.
“Secretary Kerry stays in touch with his former counterparts around the world just like every previous Secretary of State,” Summer said. “Like America’s closest allies, he believes it is important that the nuclear agreement, which took the world years to negotiate, remain effective as countries focus on stability in the region.”