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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Trump threatens to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal if not reworked by May

US Vice President said Washington will protect its allies and respond to Iran’s provocations

Mike Pence speaks at the 2018 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference at Washington Convention Center. AP/Jose Luis Magana
Mike Pence speaks at the 2018 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference at Washington Convention Center. AP/Jose Luis Magana

US Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday that Donald Trump will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal if provisions are not worked out.

The move is set to put pressure on European leaders currently negotiating with the United States to find fixes for the agreement signed by Mr Trump's predecessor Barack Obama in 2015.

Speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Monday night in Washington, Mr Pence said that “unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed in the coming months, the United States of America will withdraw from the Iran deal immediately.”

His promise comes two months after Mr Trump signed the waiver to extend the deal while setting a new May deadline to negotiate with the Europeans and fix some of its provisions related to the "sunset clause" and the ballistic missile threat.

Failure to do so, the US administration has threatened, would lead to its withdrawal from the deal by imposing sanctions on Iran’s nuclear programme and risking to dismantle the agreement.

Mr Pence also pledged to respond to Iran’s provocative actions in the Middle East.

“We’ve made great progress in the fight against ISIS. We’ve beaten them on the battlefield time and again. But as the enemy retreats, we must be vigilant to prevent others from taking its place,” he said using a different acronym for ISIL. “We will not allow the defeat of ISIS to become a victory for Iran.”

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The vice president added that “dangerous provocations will not go unchecked by Israel, America, or our allies.”

In a slip of a tongue, however, Mr Pence called his boss "the most pro-life president” catching and correcting himself moments later to "the most pro-Israel president in American history." He hailed the administration’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

"In May of this year we will open the American embassy in Jerusalem” he said.

Mr Trump on Monday said he would consider a trip to open the controversial embassy this May.

"We're looking at coming. If I can, I will," Mr Trump said. "I may. We will be talking about that and other things."

During his trip to Washington Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also expected to call for changes to, or the cancellation of, the nuclear accord between world powers and Iran, Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington said.

Mr Netanyahu is expected to focus mainly on Iran as Israel's greatest enemy, and one he says seeks a permanent military presence in neighboring Syria, during an appearance at AIPAC on Tuesday.

"Iran has not given up its nuclear ambitions. It came out of this nuclear deal emboldened, enriched," Mr Netanyahu said at the White House.