President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that the United States would be withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, considered one of the Obama administration's significant accomplishments, calling it "rotten" and "defective."
In afternoon remarks at the White House, Trump stated that Iran is the leading state sponsor of terror, emphasizing that the regime is wreaking havoc throughout the Middle East through proxies like Hezbollah and other terrorist groups.
Yet "no action has been more dangerous than its pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them," he said.
The Iran deal, which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was struck in July 2015 with several other countries. In exchange for the lifting of most international sanctions against the nation, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, drastically reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, and cut the number of its gas centrifuges.
But the agreement faced bipartisan opposition in Congress, including from some prominent Democrats like Chuck Schumer; the deal was never ratified by the Senate through the formal treaty process as prescribed in the Constitution.
Last October, Trump announced that the deal would either have to be renegotiated or terminated, assertions he repeated earlier this year in January.
At the heart of the deal was a "fiction" that that Iranians only wanted a peaceful nuclear energy program, the president explained, and it was a deal that should never have been made.
After consulting with allies and partners, he said that it was clear that an Iranian nuclear bomb could be prevented "under the decaying and rotten structure of the current deal," calling it "defective at its core."
He then said the U.S. would withdraw from the deal and summarily signed a presidential memorandum reinstating steep economic sanctions on Iran, and warned that others who helped Iran with their nuclear program might also face sanctions.
"Today's action sends a critical message," he said.
"The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them."
He noted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is currently en route to the Korean peninsula in preparation for Trump's upcoming meeting with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator.
He concluded, addressing the Iranian people: "The people of America stand with you."
"Most of Iran's 80 million citizens have sadly never known an Iran that prospered in peace with its neighbors and commanded the admiration of the world. But the future of Iran belongs to its people. They are the rightful heirs to a rich culture and an ancient land and they deserve a nation that does justice to their dreams, honor to their history, and glory to God."
Trump invited the Iranian leadership to make a better deal, framed in the knowledge that they would likely refuse.
"There has been enough suffering, death, and destruction. Let it end now," he said.
In a statement on his Facebook page Tuesday, former president Obama criticized the move, insisting that the deal was working, that Iran was complying, and that it was in the best interest of the United States and its national security to remain in it.
"I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake," Obama wrote.
"Without the JCPOA, the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East. We all know the dangers of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. It could embolden an already dangerous regime; threaten our friends with destruction; pose unacceptable dangers to America's own security; and trigger an arms race in the world's most dangerous region."