US President Donald Trump has all but decided to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord by May 12 but exactly how he will do so remains unclear, two White House officials and a source familiar with the administration’s internal debate said on Wednesday.
There is a chance Trump might choose to keep the United States in the international pact under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, in part because of “alliance maintenance” with France and to save face for French President Emmanuel Macron, who met Trump last week and urged him to stay in, the source said.
A decision by Trump to end U.S. sanctions relief would all but sink the agreement and could trigger a backlash by Iran, which could resume its nuclear arms program or “punish” U.S. allies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, diplomats said.
The pact between Iran and six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – was among former U.S. President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policies but has been described by Trump as “one of the worst deals I have ever witnessed.”
The White House official said Trump was “most of the way there toward pulling out of the deal but he hasn’t made the decision” and that he “seems poised to do it but until a decision is made by this president it is not final,” Reuters reported.
Top aides are not seeking aggressively to talk Trump out of withdrawal because he seems intent on it, a second White House official said.