Pompeo In Israel: Barring Changes, U.S. Will Withdraw From Iran Nuclear Deal
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, with talks centered on one growing concern: Iran. The top American diplomat, in what must have been music to the Israeli leader’s ears, reiterated that Washington will nix the 2015 nuclear accord unless it is amended by a May 12 deadline to re-impose U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic. “President Trump’s been pretty clear—this deal is very flawed. He has directed the administration to try and fix it and if we can’t fix it he’s going to withdraw,” Pompeo asserted. He also warned of Tehran’s “destabilizing and malign activities” in the Middle East, with Israel particularly worried about Iran’s ongoing attempt to establish a permanent military presence in Syria, from where it could open up a new front against the Jewish state. “If people thought that Iran’s aggression would be moderated as a result of signing the [atomic] deal, the opposite has happened,” Prime Minister Netanyahu affirmed during a joint press conference with Pompeo, following which the White House revealed that President Trump discussed the Iranian issue by phone with the Israeli leader the previous day. The U.S. administration has for months been lobbying European powers to devise a follow-on pact to eliminate the agreement’s so-called “sunset clauses—which remove limitations on Iran’s ability to enrich uranium in about a decade—as well as to curb the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program and regional expansionism. For his part, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the atomic accord is formally known, was “not negotiable” and that “Iran will not accept any restrictions beyond its commitments.” Tehran has threatened to “vigorously” jump-start its uranium enrichment program if Washington abandons the deal.