WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday there would be "very severe consequences" if Iran starts a nuclear program, adding that Iran "will negotiate" or "something will happen."
Meanwhile, a State Department official said on that the Trump administration and the Israeli government were closely coordinating their moves in the weeks leading up to Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
Andrew Peek, who is working on Iran policy at the department, said that the administration wants to see "improvements in Iran's behavior not just on the nuclear issue," but also on other regional issues, as part of a potential deal that will replace the 2015 nuclear agreement.
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Peek also told journalists that the administration will try to convince European allies of the U.S. to ditch the existing nuclear deal, and try to negotiate a better agreement - an idea that currently seems to have very little support in Europe. He added that despite the current expressions of disappointment from the Europeans, the administration believes they will eventually be open to working together with Trump on the issue. "We'll move forward together," Peek explained.
Peek said that the administration will not allow any new business between American companies and Iran in the next few months as the sanctions on Iran come back into place. He emphasized that there will also be "secondary sanctions" that will harm foreign companies that do business in Iran, and said the administration will work the governments of those countries on the issue. It's not clear yet how the administration's efforts will affect such business activities.
Peek's statement regarding Israel and the White House's coordination could explain a number of phone conversations held between Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during that period.
In addition, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited Washington last week and met with his American counterpart, James Mattis.
On Tuesday, Trump announced that the U.S. would pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and reinstate sanctions against Iran against the wills of other European signatories of the deal. Trump said the deal "should have never been made. It didn't bring peace, and it never will."