President Donald Trump on Friday pledged Iran “will not be doing nuclear weapons,” but stopped short of saying he'd pull out of the nuclear deal the Obama administration negotiated with the Middle Eastern power in 2015.
“They will not be doing nuclear weapons, I can tell you,” Trump said during a joint press conference at the White House with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “You can bank on it.”
Asked whether she shared Trump’s qualms about the deal, Merkel said German diplomats would “continue to be in very close talks on this” with the United States.
“It is one piece of the mosaic — one building block, if you like — on which we can build up this structure,” she said. “We want to see what sort of decisions are made by our American partners.”
Merkel, who met with Trump at the White House for a working lunch, was the second foreign leader in recent days to encourage him to maintain American involvement in the multinational agreement.
When President Emmanuel Macron of France visited the White House earlier this week for the first state visit of the Trump administration, he also lobbied the president not to abandon the deal. But speaking to journalists late Wednesday before leaving the United States, Macron said his efforts were largely unsuccessful.
“I can hear. I seemed to constantly hear that he (Trump) had no serious desire to maintain or defend” the agreement, the French president said. “I consider that it’s a campaign pledge he made long ago … I don’t know. Rational analysis does not lead me to think he will stay in the deal.”
Newly confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also suggested on Friday that Trump would probably exit the deal — likely on May 12, when a decision is due on whether to extend a suspension of sanctions against Iran.
“There has been no decision made,” Pompeo said at a news conference in Brussels after a day of meetings with NATO foreign ministers, including a session with his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany — the European architects of the nuclear agreement.
“The team is working and I am sure we will have lots of conversations to deliver what the president has made clear,“ he added. “Absent a substantial fix, absent overcoming the shortcomings, the flaws of the deal, he is unlikely to stay in that deal, as it is now.”
At Friday’s White House press conference, Trump declined to comment on whether he would resort to military force to block Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“I don't talk about whether or not I’d use military force,” said Trump, who has previously bragged in a tweet about having a “Nuclear Button” on his desk and in September threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly. “It's not appropriate to be talking about.”