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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Live updates: Rouhani fires back at Trump, says Iran is committed to deal

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini hit back at President Trump, saying he does not have the power to kill the deal, follow the developments and reaction here

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. AP Photo
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. AP Photo

11.26pm: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country will remain committed to the nuclear deal and its own ballistic missile programme as long as its own interests are served, despite President Trump's speech.

“The Iranian nation has not and will never bow to any foreign pressure...Iran and the deal are stronger than ever ... Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps will continue its fight against regional terrorists,” Mr Rouhani said in a televised address.

10.33pm: UK Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron

and German Chancellor Angela Merkel say they "stand committed" to the nuclear deal.

10.25pm: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is currently delivering a response to President Trump's speech

10.10pm: President Trump posts a clip of his speech onto his personal Twitter account

9.36pm: EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini issued a statement live from Brussels:

She says "We cannot afford to dismantle a nuclear agreement that is working".

Ms Mogherini stated that, contrary to what Mr Trump said, there have been no violations of any of the agreements in the programme.

"It has and will continue to prevent Iran from developing any nuclear weapons".

She added "We believe we have a collective responsibility to preserve it for our collective security".

She emphasised that Trump’s announcement was a domestic one, but that the deal is an international project and so he alone can not end the deal: “The President of the United States has many powers but not this one”

Ms Mogherini concluded by confirming "The EU is committed to preserving the deal to the benefit of all people, including the Iranian people".

In response to a question, she clarified that she had just recently spoken to Mr Tillerson and that there was no mention of axing the sunset deals.

9.20pm: Now comes the inevitable fall out as politicians, experts and analysts share their views

9.15pm: Following that twenty minute speech, it is now up to Congress to decide whether to follow Trump's speech and to reimpose sanctions or enact new Iran Nuclear Review Act.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he supports Trump's decision to re-evaluate Iran nuclear deal.

9.12pm: He rounded off his announcement by presenting his vision for the future, saying he hopes the actions today will bring about a future of peace and prosperity in the Middle East.9.09pm: Trump continues, with more confidence in his voice:

“We cannot and will not make this certification. We will not continue down the path that the predictable conclusion is more violence more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout.”

America will address the deals many serious flaws, including the deals “sunset clauses”.

9.07pm: President Trump continues to say the deal was supposed to aid region and international security - and yet "the Iranian regime fuels conflict and turmoil through the Middle East and beyond". He says Iran “is not living up to the spirit of the deal”.

He lists key areas of change, including:

  • "We will place additional sanctions to block their financing of terror"
  • "We will address the regimes proliferation of missiles and weapons"
  • "We will deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon"

He added, "The execution of our strategy begins with the long over due sanctions on Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps" for support of terrorism. He urged America’s allies to join him in sanctions.

9.04pm: Trump: There are many that believe that Iran is dealing with N Korea and Trump will instruct America’s intelligence agencies to explore this.

9.02pm: He asks his audience to image the piles of cash that were delivered to Iran - “I wonder where that money went”.

He says Iran can now sprint towards a rapid nuclear breakthrough; he asks, what is the purpose of a deal that at best just delays the nuclear breakthrough?

"The saddest part", Trump says, "is that all of the money was paid for up front".

9.00pm: He repeats his statement that the Iran nuclear deal is in his opinion one of the worst deals in America’s history: not only because of the impact on America, but also because of the cash flow that was restated towards Iran.

8.57pm He does not mince his words, saying:

“Iran is under the control of a fanatical regime that seized power in 1979 and forced a proud people to submit to an extremist rule”.

President Trump says the regime has spread “death” and “destruction” around the globe, including the hostage taking and killing of Americans.

He labels Iran a "leading state sponsor of terrorism"

8.52pm: A slightly breathy President Trump begins his statement saying "My highest obligation is the safety and security of the American people. History has shown the longer we ignore a threat, the stronger that threat becomes".

He announces a complete strategic review what “toward the rogue regime in Iran”.

Mr Trump says America must confront “Iran’s hostile actions” and ensure Iran never achieves a nuclear weapon.

8.15pm: Trump's decision not to certify Iran while looking to amend the deal has had a mixed reaction from politicians and experts.

7.45pm: Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the US president's speech detailing America's new approach to Iran.

Less than an hour before Mr Trump is due to outline his Iran strategy, United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that the president has decided not to re-certify Iran to Congress in compliance with the 2015 nuclear discord.

Trump will not withdraw from Iran nuclear deal, nor will he instruct Congress to impose new sanctions, but he will say the pact is not in US national security interests and that a broad new strategy is needed to contain the country.

Earlier, the White House said the strategy will focus on three key points

  • Fixing the nuclear deal to make it harder for Iran to develop a weapon
  • Addressing its ballistic missile programme
  • Countering Iranian activities that Washington says contribute to instability in the Middle East

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“An embarrassment”, “horrible” and “worst deal ever”

Even before his presidency, Mr Trump has never been lost for adjectives when attacking the Iran nuclear deal — cited in political circles as the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA).

As our Washington correspondent Joyce Karam has reported, Mr Trump has been loath to certify the agreement every 90 days, as required by US law, and is expected to say that he will refuse to do so a third time ahead the next deadline on Sunday.

Decertification of the deal will throw the debate to Congress, which will have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran related to its nuclear programme.

The Iran nuclear pact was the signature foreign policy achievement of Mr Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, and signed in 2015 by the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, the European Union and Iran.

Mr Trump spoke to signatories of the deal this week. Theresa May, the UK prime minister, insisted the UK remained committed to the deal, as Noor Nanji in London reports.

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Trump likely to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard as terror organisation

Another part of the overall strategy Mr Trump is expected to lay out is the possible designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation.

As Joyce Karam reports here, such a designation would fulfil a requirement by Congress under the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”, which was signed into law by Mr Trump on August 2.

According to the new law, Mr Trump has until October 31 to either designate the IRGC under the treasury department’s 13224 terrorist category, or waive that designation for national security reasons. The administration could also choose to go further and designate the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) under state department authority, putting it in the same category as Hizbollah and al Qaeda.

A designation under 13224 would be the first time the US has labelled the military branch of another country as terrorists.

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Iran's ballistic missile testing

Tehran has continued to defy US sanctions and concerns raised by its Arab allies to the United Nations with an increase in ballistic missile testing and spending.

In August, its parliament increased the budget for both missile testing and its Al Quds forces.

The following month, defence minister Brigadier General Amir Hatam said Iran would increase the capabilities of its ballistic and cruise missiles. By the end of September, Tehran announced the successful test-firing of the Khorramshahr missile.

Read more: Iran air defence improved but not game-changing, analysts say

The test drew international condemnation.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, told the United Nations General Assembly that such acts were a “deliberate violation of the spirit” of the agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear programme.

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson tweeted: "Extremely concerned by reports of Iran missile test, which is inconsistent with UN resolution 2231. Call on Iran to halt provocative acts."

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Opinion: Why Donald Trump is prepared to ditch the Iran nuclear deal

Editorial: As the deadline approaches, Trump must decide whether to decertify or not