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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Donald Trump will announce decision on Iran deal on Tuesday

The US president has tweeted that he will reveal the long-awaited policy choice for his administration

President Donald Trump has used to Twitter to trail one of the most awaited foreign policy decisions of his entire presidency. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Donald Trump has used to Twitter to trail one of the most awaited foreign policy decisions of his entire presidency. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

US president Donald Trump announced on Twitter on Monday afternoon that he would reveal to the world what his decision on the Iranian nuclear deal would be tomorrow.

“I will be announcing my decision on the Iran Deal tomorrow from the White House at 2:00pm”, he told his 51.6m followers on the social media site, bypassing as ever the usual protocols for the announcement of such important policy choices:

The president gave no subsequent indication of what direction his thoughts were going in, following the tweet which was retweeted more than 11,000 in the hour following its posting.

Earlier in the day, in a potentially related development, the hawkish British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who has expressed his admiration of Mr Trump repeatedly, made a last-minute pitch to save the Iran nuclear deal on Monday by appearing on the president’s favourite Fox News television show, urging him not to throw out "the baby with the bathwater".

In a somewhat combative interview, Mr Johnson was asked why it was left to President Trump to demand a stronger deal and why Britain had not negotiated better terms with Iran in 2015.

"Yeah, well, so should America (have), to be totally fair, you know? We were all in it," Mr Johnson told the Fox & Friends morning show.

"But yes, the president has a legitimate point. He set a challenge for the world. We think that what you can do is be tougher on Iran, address the concerns of the president and not throw the baby out with the bath water – not junk a deal – because as I’ve said, ‘Plan B’ does not seem to be particularly well developed at this stage."

Mr Johnson said there have been 400 inspections in the past two years and the International Atomic Agency has confirmed that Iran is in compliance. In a later argument with Sky News, Mr Johnson again argued that there was no back-up plan.

“There are going to be considerable risks at the moment that the United States will walk away, that there could well be a collapse of the deal. And what happens then? The Iranians just go for a bomb. And how do we stop them? What’s our Plan B?” Mr Johnson asked.

Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action backed by backed by Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US Obama administration in 2015, crippling international sanctions were eased in return for a commitment from Iran not to pursue a nuclear bomb.

The US president has threatened to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal by the May 12 deadline, however, demanding that European signatories "fix the terrible flaws" in it or he will re-impose sanctions on Iran eased under the accord brokered before Mr Trump took office.

An annulment could tip the scales in favour of Iranian hardliners looking to constrain the relatively moderate president's ability to open up to the West.

On Monday, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said Iran would "fiercely resist" efforts to weaken the country or limit its influence in the region or internationally. Iran has previously complained that it is not reaping the rewards despite complying with the deal.

"If they want to make sure that we are not after a nuclear bomb, we have said repeatedly that we are not and we will not be," Mr Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state television.

"But if they want to weaken Iran and limit its influence whether in the region or globally, Iran will fiercely resist".

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Read more:

What Trump may do on or before May 12 deadline

Why Iran is unlikely to return to the negotiating table

US stance on Iran may spur oil market volatility

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Mr Johnson was due to hold talks with vice president Mike Pence and US national security adviser John Bolton on Monday, but he was not scheduled to meet Mr Trump.

The foreign secretary also appealed to the US through an op-ed piece published in The New York Times. While he admitted the 2015 agreement was not perfect, he said there was no better alternative.

"At this delicate juncture, it would be a mistake to walk away from the nuclear agreement and remove the restraints that it places on Iran," Mr Johnson wrote in the Times on Sunday.

He argued that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have been granted extra powers to monitor Iran's nuclear facilities, "increasing the likelihood that they would spot any attempt to build a weapon".

"I believe that keeping the deal's constraints on Iran's nuclear programme will also help counter Tehran's aggressive regional behaviour. I am sure of one thing: every available alternative is worse. The wisest course would be to improve the handcuffs rather than break them," he wrote.

British, French and German diplomats have reportedly been working for weeks behind the scenes with US counterparts to save the deal.

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry's "shadow diplomacy" with a top-ranking Iranian official has raised questions about whether Mr Kerry's interference is patriotic or indefensible. Mr Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif have met twice in about two months to discuss salvaging a deal they negotiated, the Boston Globe reported.

Ex-White House adviser Sebastian Gorka said the meetings, if they occurred, could be considered "collusion".

"When are FBI agents with guns drawn going to raid his house?" Mr Gorka tweeted.