Bolton: Trump Decided to Pull Out of Iran Nuclear Deal 'Just Before the Speech'

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John Bolton speaks to Fox News about Iran deal exit and North Korea
John Bolton speaks to Fox News about Iran deal exit and North KoreaCredit: Screen grab

U.S. President Donald Trump abandoning the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday was one of the most consequential decisions of Trump's high-stakes "America First" policy, which has led him to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, come close to a trade war with China and pull out of an Asian-Pacific trade deal.

It also appeared to reflect the growing influence within the administration of Iran hawks like new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton.

Bolton explained on Fox News Trump's thought process ahead of the decision to pull out. Bolton told Laura Ingraham that Trump "listened to everybody who wanted to talk to him up to and including over the weekend with Prime Minister May of Great Britain, he gave everyone of them a chance to fix the deal, but they didn't even come close."  

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Ingraham asked Bolton when Trump made the decision to leave the deal and Bolton surprised her by saying, "Just before the speech really." Bolton's explanation follows denials Tuesday from the White House and France that Trump told French President Emanuelle Macron ahead of his announcement that he would pull out of the deal. 

The European Union and France said on Wednesday they are still comitted to the Iran nuclear deal and will work to protect their business interests in Iran. 

Exclusive: John Bolton on Iran deal exit, North KoreaCredit: Fox News

Iran denies it has tried to build atomic weapons and says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. U.N. inspectors say Iran has not broken the nuclear deal and senior U.S. officials themselves have said several times that Iran is in technical compliance with the pact.

Renewing sanctions would make it much harder for Iran to sell its oil abroad or use the international banking system.

Iran is the third-largest member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and pumps about 3.8 million barrels per day of crude, or just under 4 percent of global supply. China, India, Japan and South Korea buy most of its 2.5 million bpd of exports.

According to the U.S. Treasury, sanctions related to Iran's energy, auto and financial sectors will be reimposed in three and six months.

Licenses for Boeing Co and Airbus to sell passenger jets to Iran will be revoked, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said, scuttling a $38 billion deal.

Trump said the nuclear agreement did not prevent Iran from cheating and continuing to pursue nuclear weapons.

"It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement," he said. "The Iran deal is defective at its core."

Trump said he was willing to negotiate a new deal with Iran, but Tehran already has ruled that out and threatened unspecified retaliation if Washington pulled out.

Iran's growing military and political power in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq worries the United States, Israel and U.S. Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia.

Among the few nations to welcome Trump's decision to renege on the deal were Israel and Saudi Arabia, Iran's arch-foes in the Middle East.

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