In Persian New Year greeting, Trump hits Iran's self-serving 'rulers', 'hostile' IRGC

Reuters

The Middle East will be plunged into a devastating new war if the Trump administration withdraws the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly warned Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.

Trump has been staunchly critical of Iran, levying fresh sanctions on its Revolutionary Guards and threatening to ditch the 2015 nuclear deal struck by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Merkel reportedly told Netanyahu, "It will put us, the Brits, and the French on the same side with Russia, China, and Iran when the USA and Israel will be on the other side".

According to the report, during a meeting between the two leaders in Davos, Switzerland this January, the chancellor pressed Netanyahu on the subject, telling him if the U.S. does leave the JCPOA, it would divide Western allies, asking Netanyahu rhetorically "Do you want that to happen?" By "fixing" the Iran nuclear deal according to Trump's conditions - which would mean including constraints on Iran's ballistic missiles and regional activities, permitting even more intrusive inspections, and making the limits on uranium enrichment last forever instead of 10 to 15 years - Trump would be demonstrating to Kim that he must accept similar constraints or suffer the consequences of failing to do so.

Hook reluctantly acknowledged that Iran is in "technical compliance" with the nuclear deal.

"Our view of the nuclear deal is that it's a flawed agreement", the foreign minister said.

"When you look at the Iran deal, I think it's bad".

USA sanctions will resume unless Trump again waives them on May 12.

It was the first meeting between Pompeo and Tillerson since Trump's decision to fire the former Exxon Mobil CEO last week following a series of rifts over policy on North Korea, Russia and Iran, a US official said. "I wanted to either break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently".

The European nations only begrudgingly agreed to negotiate a side deal after it became clear that placating the USA president was the only way to salvage the nuclear deal, they said.

The demanded "fixes" included making limits on Iran's civilian program permanent, tying Europe's sanctions relief to America's own perspective of the deal, compelling Iran to offer additional access above and beyond what United Nations inspectors even want, and treating Iran's conventional missile systems as part of their "nuclear" program for the purposes of sanctions.

Of the incoming secretary of state, current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Trump said the two are thinking more closely in line on worldwide issues.

Congress has failed to come up with a legislative fix that satisfies Trump's desire to fundamentally disrupt the accord and fulfill his oft-stated campaign promise to "rip up" the deal early on in his presidency.

The US official added that Saudi Arabia's security is a priority for the US, saying that over the past nine months, Congress has approved $54 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, the feud between Saudi Arabia and Iran is running deep in the ongoing war in Yemen, where Saudi is bogged down by the Tehran-backed Houthi rebels. "It's probably another month or so, and you're going to see what I do", Trump told reporters at a White House meeting Tuesday with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Diplomats said Trump's ultimatum puts some of America's closest allies in the uncomfortable position of trying to anticipate what is likely to satisfy Trump, even as they resent his demand to tinker with the nuclear deal in the first place.

European planemaker Airbus and its USA rival Boeing have agreed to sell 180 jets to renew the aging fleet of Iranian state carrier IranAir.

"From a command that's about nuclear [threats], that's an important piece to me", he said.

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