(AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi

“If they restart their nuclear program, they will have bigger problems than they have ever had before,” Trump warned Iran.

By: JNS, AP and United with Israel Staff

US President Donald Trump lashed out at the Iranian nuclear deal on Tuesday during a press conference at the White House with French President Emmanuel Macron. He described the agreement as “insane” and a “terrible deal,” while warning Iran against restarting its nuclear program if the US pulls out.

“If they restart their nuclear program, they will have bigger problems than they have ever had before,” Trump said, without elaborating further.

For months, US and European officials have been meeting to discuss ways to bolster the Iran nuclear deal. Trump believes that he and Macron have come close to forging an agreement.

“We could have at least an agreement among ourselves very quickly. I think we’re fairly close to understanding each other,” he said.

Macron, who came to Washington in part to persuade Trump to stay in the nuclear deal, argued that while imperfect, it remains the best chance to constrain Tehran.

“On Iran, we must contextualize this subject within the challenges of the region,” said Macron. “There is the situation in Syria, there is security in the entire region, and I think, in any case, we share a common goal of avoiding an escalation and proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region. So the question is what the best path is.”

“No one knows what I’m going to do on the 12th, although Mr. President, you have a pretty good idea,” Trump told Macron.

If Trump does withdraw, he will investigate the possibility of “a new deal with solid foundations, because this is a deal with decayed foundations.”

If Iran ever threatens the United States, “they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid,” he warned.

Iran responded by saying that if the US pulls out of the nuclear deal, Iran “mostly likely” will abandon it, too.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that if Trump re-imposes sanctions, “basically killing the deal,” Iran would no longer be bound by the pact’s international obligations, freeing it up to resume enrichment far beyond the deal’s strict limits.

“If the United States were to withdraw from the nuclear deal, the immediate consequence in all likelihood would be that Iran would reciprocate and withdraw,” Zarif said. “There won’t be any deal for Iran to stay in.”

While Iran has claimed that its nuclear project is for peaceful purposes only, its immensity and the facilities it incorporates suggest otherwise. Israel continues to view Iran as an existential threat, and Netanyahu has repeatedly called on Trump and the other signatory states to “fix or nix” the agreement.