Donald Trump has spent his presidency threatening to pull the US out of its historic nuclear agreement with Iran. On Tuesday afternoon, he’ll finally do so.
Trump is set to use a White House address at 2 pm to announce that he’s reimposing US sanctions on Iran, effectively killing the nuclear agreement with Tehran that was President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement. The deal between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany put tight restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the relaxation of some punishing international sanctions on the country.
The president technically had until May 12 to make his call about whether to start putting the sanctions on Iran back into place, and the plans for the Tuesday afternoon announcement caught many observers off guard.
Trump has attacked the agreement for years, arguing that Iran can’t be trusted and saying that the deal merely postpones the day when Tehran obtains a nuke. But many of his closest Republican allies had been begging him to stay in the deal and instead work with Europe to make the agreement tougher on Iran.
The deal’s supporters note the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has repeatedly certified that Iran is honoring its part of the deal. A succession of European leaders, from French President Emmanuel Macron to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have visited Washington in recent weeks to personally lobby Trump to stay in the pact.
Those entreaties seem to have failed, and multiple outlets are reporting that Trump plans to pull the US out of the deal anyway, first by reimposing US sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and then, later this summer, by putting other punitive measures on Tehran back into place.
Those moves don’t mean Iran will immediately resume its pursuit of a nuke; lose US allies could reimpose their own sanctions if Tehran used Washington’s move as a pretense to restart its nuclear program. Still, a US withdrawal would significantly weaken the overall strength of the deal.
The one certainty is that after months of suspense, Washington, and the world, will finally get Trump’s decision about the deal’s fate Tuesday afternoon at the White House.
How to watch Trump’s Iran speech
When: Tuesday, May 8. Trump is expected to begin speaking around 2 pm Eastern time.
Where: The speech will likely air on all major news networks, and the White House will stream it on its YouTube channel. C-SPAN will also be live-streaming the announcement.