US President Donald Trump is unhappy with the Iran nuclear deal but has not signalled he will abandon it, the US ambassador to the United Nations said on Wednesday. “It’s not a clear signal that he plans to withdraw. What it is, is a clear signal that he’s not happy with the deal,” the envoy, Nikki Haley, told CBS News of Trump’s pugnacious speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday in which he called the 2015 international accord “an embarrassment.”
Trump hinted in his speech to the annual gathering of world leaders that he may not recertify the agreement, negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama. “I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it,” he said. The US president must decide by Oct. 15 whether to certify that Iran is complying with the pact, a decision that could sink the deal. If he does not, the US Congress has 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions waived under the accord.
Under the agreement between Iran and six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – the Iranian government agreed to restrict its nuclear program in return for western countries loosening economic sanctions. Haley spoke ahead of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s UN speech in which he is expected to respond to Trump’s accusations that Iran exports “violence, bloodshed and chaos.”
The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said the United States should experience “painful responses” following Trump’s harsh criticism. “Taking a definitive stand against Trump is only the beginning of the path,” said General Mohammad Ali Jafari, according to Sepah News, the news site of the Revolutionary Guards. “What is strategically important is that America witnesses more painful responses in the actions, behavior and decisions that Iran takes in the coming months.”
The prospect of Washington reneging on the agreement has worried some US partners that helped negotiate it, especially as the world grapples with another nuclear crisis, North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development. Russia is concerned by Trump questioning the Iran nuclear deal, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian reporters at the United Nations in comments published by his ministry on Wednesday.
“It’s extremely worrying,” Lavrov said. “We will defend this document, this consensus, which was met with relief by the entire international community and genuinely strengthened both regional and international security.” Lavrov, referring to Trump’s speech, said that “if you simply condemn and threaten, then we’re going to antagonize countries over whom we want to exert influence.”