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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Iran will not acquire nuclear weapons: Trump

‘You can bank on it’: Donald Trump talks tough on Iran weapons

US President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel in the East Room of the White House on April 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
US President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel in the East Room of the White House on April 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that Iran will not acquire nuclear weapons but declined comment on whether he may consider the use of force against it.

“I don't talk about whether or not I would use military force,” Trump told a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“But I can tell you this, they will not be doing nuclear weapons. That I can tell you. OK? They are not going to be doing nuclear weapons. You can bank on it.”

The two leaders put on a show of warmth and friendship despite tensions between the two allies and differences over trade, including proposed steel tariffs.

The cautious Mrs Merkel has not established a particularly strong personal rapport with Mr Trump. The mood of her one-day working visit contrasted sharply with the personal warmth shown between Mr Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit earlier this week.

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Mr Macron, however, acknowledged that Mr Trump was likely to pull out of the multinational Iran nuclear deal before heading home after a three-day state visit to Washington.

The Iran deal, looming US tariffs on European steel and aluminium products, a planned Russian gas pipeline running under the Baltic Sea to Germany, and Berlin's military spending are issues that divide the German leader and Mr Trump.

Mr Macron made the European position on the Iran nuclear deal clear ahead of Mrs Merkel's visit.

On Wednesday, he called on the United States not to abandon the Iran deal as Western envoys said Britain, France and Germany were nearing agreeing a package they hope could persuade Mr Trump to save the pact. This gives Mrs Merkel something to work with.

The US leader will decide by May 12 whether to revive US sanctions on Iran.

Doing so would be a serious blow to the nuclear deal, which many Western countries sees as essential for stopping Tehran developing a nuclear bomb.