Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told his European counterparts on Friday that President Donald Trump has rejected a potential revision to the Iran nuclear deal because it doesn’t address the agreement’s sunset clauses, according to a new report.
On a conference call with foreign ministers from Britain, France and Germany, Pompeo said Trump wants to go in a different direction than a draft understanding reached between American negotiators and their colleagues from those countries, reports Axios, citing multiple sources who were briefed on the call.
As Trump administration officials have previously said, the main sticking point in the negotiations is over the deal’s sunset clause — a provision that eases limits on Iran’s nuclear activities after 10 years. Because the draft understanding does not extend the sunset dates, Trump said it would not change his thinking about pulling out of the Iran deal, Pompeo reportedly told the foreign ministers.
Trump is expected to publicly announce his decision on the Iran deal on Tuesday afternoon, four days ahead of a May 12 deadline over whether to extend sanctions waivers or resume penalties on Tehran. The president has long characterized the 2015 accord — negotiated by the Obama administration, Iran and five other world powers — as one of the worst deals ever made. Top administration officials have hinted in recent weeks that he will decide to re-impose some sanctions lifted by the agreement, though it remains unclear what specific penalties the White House will resume.
Over the past two weeks, delegations from the E3 countries — Britain, France and Germany — have traveled to Washington, in part to urge the Trump administration to either stay in the Iran deal or give negotiators more time to work on a draft with stronger provisions. European leaders have said they will try to preserve the agreement with Tehran even if Washington walks away.
Even if Trump decides to resume sanctions, the administration will continue working closely with European partners to firm up the deal’s restrictions on Iran, Pompeo said last week.
“We share the same end goal to keep the Iranians from ever having a nuclear weapon,” he told reporters during a return flight to Washington. “I am confident that we will continue to have good relations with our European partners should the President choose to pull out of this. This will be one issue among many of the important, critical issues that we all work on together.”
For its part, Tehran has rejected the possibility of negotiating a new deal, and hardliners in the Islamic regime say a U.S. withdrawal will relieve Iran of its responsibilities under the current agreement.
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