Jun 23, 2019

Trump says he'll negotiate any deal with Iran as long as it bans nuclear weapons

President Trump said in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that he is willing to speak with the leaders of Iran under "no pre-conditions," and that all he is seeking out of a deal with Iran is a ban on the country obtaining nuclear weapons.

CHUCK TODD: "Is it one-on-one talks, you and the Ayatollah, or you and the President?
TRUMP: "It doesn't matter to me. Here's what I want, anything that gets you to the result. They cannot have a nuclear weapon. It's not about the straits. You know, a lot of people covered it incorrectly. They're never mentioned. They cannot have a nuclear weapon. They'd use it. And they're not going to have a nuclear weapon."

Why it matters: The 2015 Iran nuclear deal that President Trump pulled the U.S. out of was designed to do exactly that. Up until now, the UN's atomic watchdog and even Trump's own intelligence chiefs have assessed that Iran has been in compliance with the terms of the deal, a claim that Trump denies.

  • Last week, as a result of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign, Iran said it would break uranium stockpile limits set under the 2015 deal within the next 10 days.
  • Trump told NBC's Chuck Todd that the deal that President Obama struck was defective because certain restrictions on Iran's nuclear program would be lifted after 10 and 15 years, that it didn't cover ballistic missiles, and that certain sites couldn't be inspected.

The big picture: Asked about the pending military strike against Iran that he called off, Trump reiterated that he believed the death toll would have been "disproportionate." He added: "I'm not looking for war and if there is, it'll be obliteration like you've never seen before. But I'm not looking to do that."

  • Responding to criticism that he pledged to get the U.S. out of the Middle East as a candidate, Trump said that he is committed to protecting Israel and Saudi Arabia. "Look, Saudi Arabia is buying $400 billion worth of things for us. That's a very good thing."

Trump again brought up Saudi Arabia's purchase of U.S. arms — which in reality is not anywhere near $400 billion — when pressed on whether he spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about the recent UN report on Jamal Khashoggi.

  • Trump said that he would override Congress' recent efforts to halt U.S. weapons sales to the kingdom, claiming the purchases amount to "a million jobs and probably more."

Go deeper: How Trump and Tehran came to the brink of war

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