Updated May 8, 2018

Trump pulls U.S. from Iran nuclear deal, starts “highest level” sanctions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and institute the "highest level" of sanctions against it during a statement at the White House on Tuesday — ahead of the May 12 deadline for a decision.

Be smart, from Axios' Jonathan Swan: Trump has never wavered on the Iran deal. He was convinced from the campaign that it was a “disaster” and “weak” — a poorly-negotiated contract by poor negotiators.

  • Trump went nuts at his national security team early last year when they didn’t present him options for total withdrawal. His appointment of the ultra-hawk John Bolton as his national security adviser left nobody in doubt about what he was going to do.
  • On Iran, members of his national security team have been frustrated that there’s little that connects his different impulses.
  • The real question: What does Trump do next? It’s not clear what the administration’s plan is for the day after exiting the Iran deal, and in some ways Trump is internally incoherent. Members of his national security team have been frustrated about Trump’s desire to withdraw US troops from Syria. They point out the contradiction: how can you want to be “tougher” on Iran when you appear willing to cede Syria to Iran?

What Trump said:

  • "If I allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Everyone would want their nuclear weapons ready by the time Iran had theirs."
  • To the people of Iran: "The people of America stand with you. It has now been almost 40 years since this dictatorship seized power and took a proud nation hostage."
  • "Great things can happen for Iran —  and great things can happen for the peace and stability we all want in the Middle East. There has been enough suffering, death, and destruction. Let it end now."

The timing: The U.S. Treasury is implementing a wind-down period for businesses currently engaged in business with Iran — and the sanctions will roll into place between 90 to 180 days from now.

The Iranian response:

President Hassan Rouhani spoke immediately after Trump, saying Iran would attempt to salvage the agreement without the U.S. If that attempt fails, though, he said: "I have ordered Iran’s atomic organization that whenever it is needed, we will start enriching uranium more than before.”

  • The leaders of France, Germany and the U.K. released a joint statement, saying in part: we "will remain parties to the JCPoA. Our governments remain committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld, and will work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure this remains the case including through ensuring the continuing economic benefits to the Iranian people that are linked to the agreement."

Go deeper: What Iran and our European allies might do next.

Go deeper

The coronavirus is Trump's slow-burn crisis

Photo: Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

At 6:30 p.m. from the White House press room, President Trump will publicly make himself the face of America's response to the coronavirus crisis.

Why it matters: This is exactly the situation where a president needs the credibility to truthfully explain a tough situation to the public.

Obama demands South Carolina stations stop airing misleading anti-Biden ad

Photo: Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage

Former President Obama's office is calling on South Carolina TV stations to stop running a misleading attack ad by a pro-Trump super PAC that uses Obama's voice out of context to make it appear as if he is criticizing Joe Biden and Democrats on race.

Why it matters: It's a rare intervention by Obama, whose former vice president is facing a critical primary in South Carolina on Saturday. Obama has said he has no plans to endorse in the Democratic field.

The megatrends that will shape the 21st century

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

An enormous amount of change has been crammed into the first two decades of the 21st century — but what’s coming next will break every speed record.

The big picture: The world is being buffeted by rapid yet uneven advances in technology that will revamp work and what it means to be human. At the same time, fundamental demographic changes will alter democracies and autocracies alike while the effects of climate change accumulate, physically redrawing our globe.