President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron walk to the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 24, 2018. Trump said the partnership he forged with Macron at the start of his presidency was a testament to the “enduring friendship that binds our two nations.” (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
French President Emmanuel Macron visited the White House Tuesday for a bilateral discussion on several topics and a joint press conference with President Donald Trump; and the subject of former President Barack Obama’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — better known as the Iran Deal — was the topic du jour.
Trump has long criticized the Iran Deal and expressed a willingness not to recertify it, even at times suggesting that the U.S. should pull itself out of a deal he’s described as “insane”, “ridiculous” and a “disaster”.
One stumbling block the U.S. faces in pulling itself out of the deal — one critics say allows Iran a pathway to nuclear weapons — is that the U.S. did not strike the accord with Iran in a vacuum. The deal is, in fact, an agreement between Iran, the P5+1 nations (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany), and the European Union.
In order to leave the deal, Trump’s going to have to make the case to partners and allies.
Today may have been the first step in that direction as Trump seems to have convinced Macron — who traveled to the U.S. with the express intent of salvaging the Iran deal — to consider striking a new deal with regard to the Middle Eastern nation.
President Donald Trump suggested on Tuesday that he would consider a plea from visiting French President Emmanuel Macron to renegotiate and expand the multinational Iran nuclear deal rather than tear it up, as Trump has long pledged to do.
Macron, who came to Washington intent on salvaging the 2015 accord that dismantled Iran’s nuclear program through 2025, proposed “a new deal” to allay Trump’s concerns — by adding planks to contain Iran’s uranium enrichment, its missile programs and its support of militants throughout the region.
“I think we will have a great shot at doing a much bigger — maybe — deal, maybe not deal,” Trump said during a joint news conference with Macron. “We’re going to find out, but we’ll know fairly soon.”
Interestingly, the two leaders also discussed Syria in the wake of U.S. bombing of chemical weapons facilities in that country and an expressed public desire to begin pulling American troops out of the region.
He made the case that a new deal could not only keep Iran’s nuclear ambitions at bay, but also help bring a political settlement to the Syrian civil war — another issue in which he is trying to persuade Trump to stay the course. Trump repeated that he is eager to withdraw remaining U.S. troops, while France wants the United States to keep a force in the war-torn country as a counterbalance to Iran and Russia.
“We need to win peace and make sure that Syria does not fall into any hegemony in the region,” Macron said.
Iran has answered the news of a possible blow to the JCPOA with a full-throated threat to withdraw from the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT).
Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s supreme national security council, said Tuesday that Iran was considering “surprising actions” if the U.S. decides to leave the deal, of which pulling out of the NPT would arguably be the most drastic.
“The NPT acknowledges the right for all its member states to leave the treaty if their interests are endangered,” said Shamkhani, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.