President Donald Trump has warned Iran against resuming its nuclear weapons programme, a day after announcing that he was withdrawing the US from the landmark Iran nuclear deal.
“I would advise Iran not to start their nuclear programme,” President Trump told reporters at the start of a Cabinet meeting when asked about the potential consequences.
“I would advise them very strongly. If they do there will be very severe consequence.”
The comments came a day after President Trump announced he was withdrawing the US from the accord with Iran, restoring harsh sanctions in the most consequential foreign policy action of his presidency.
The 2015 agreement, which was negotiated by the Obama administration and included Germany, France and Britain, had lifted most US and international economic sanctions against Iran.
In exchange, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear programme, making it impossible to produce a bomb and establishing rigorous inspections.
But President Trump, a severe critic of the deal dating back to his 2016 presidential campaign, said on Tuesday in a televised address from the White House that it was “defective at its core”.
On Wednesday, he claimed the deal “was going to lead to nuclear proliferation all over the Middle East” and bragged the sanctions would be among the strongest “that we’ve ever put on a country”.
The Iran Deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know what will happen. In just a short time, the worldâs leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the worldâs most dangerous weapons.... pic.twitter.com/58qwBLzxIH— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2018
President Trump also pointed to Iran’s actions in countries including Syria and Yemen.
“With all of the places they’re involved, it’s bedlam and death and we can’t allow that to happen,” he said, adding: “They’ve gotta understand life. ‘Cause I don’t think they do understand life.”
The sanctions seek to punish Iran for its nuclear programme by limiting its ability to sell oil or do business overseas, affecting a wide range of Iranian economic sectors and individuals.
Major companies in the US and Europe could be hurt, too. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that licenses held by Boeing and its European competitor Airbus to sell billions of dollars in commercial jetls to Iran will be revoked.
Certain exemptions are to be negotiated, but Mr Mnuchin refused to discuss what products might qualify.
He said the sanctions will sharply curtail sales of oil by Iran, which is currently the world’s fifth largest oil producer.
Mr Mnuchin said he did not expect oil prices to rise sharply, forecasting that other producers will step up production.
President Trump also left open the possibility of a new deal, and told reporters: “We’ll make either a really good deal for the world or we’re not going to make a deal at all.”
He predicted Iran would choose to negotiate eventually, or face consequences.
The administration said it would re-impose sanctions on Iran immediately but allow grace periods for businesses to wind down activity.