Exiting the Deal Part 8: Middle East Responds

On May 8, President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. Israel and the Gulf states welcomed Trump's decision. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump's decision as an "historic move" and praised his "courageous leadership." Iran's rival, Saudi Arabia, condemned Tehran's destabilizing behavior in the region. Iran “took advantage of the economic benefits afforded by the lifting of sanctions and used them to continue… developing its ballistic missiles and supporting terrorist organizations," the Saudi Foreign Ministry said. The following are reactions from Middle East countries to the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. 


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

"Israel fully supports President Trump’s bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran. Israel has opposed the nuclear deal from the start because we said that rather than blocking Iran’s path to a bomb, the deal actually paved Iran’s path to an entire arsenal of nuclear bombs, and this within a few years’ time. The removal of sanctions under the deal has already produced disastrous results. The deal didn’t push war further away, it actually brought it closer. The deal didn’t reduce Iran’s aggression, it dramatically increased it, and we see this across the entire Middle East. Since the deal, we’ve seen Iran’s aggression grow every day- in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Gaza, and most of all, in Syria, where Iran is trying to establish military bases from which to attack Israel.
Despite the deal, the terrorist regime in Tehran is developing a ballistic missiles capability, ballistic missiles to carry nuclear warheads far and wide, to many parts of the world.
And as we exposed last week, since the deal, Iran intensified its efforts to hide its secret nuclear weapons program.
So if you leave all of this unchanged, all this combined is a recipe for disaster, a disaster for our region, a disaster for the peace of the world.
This is why Israel thinks that President Trump did an historic move and this is why Israel thanks President Trump for his courageous leadership, his commitment to confront the terrorist regime in Tehran and his commitment to ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, not today, not in a decade, not ever."

May 8, 2018, in a statement

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz

"Iran has two options -- to align or to fold and crumble." 

If Iran doesn't end its nuclear ambitions, "it will encounter the U.S. economic power, and we know the state of the Iranian economy." 

May 9, 2018, speaking to the Herzliya Conference, according to the Associated Press


Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir

"We believe that the nuclear deal was flawed. We believe that the sunset clause should be eliminated. We believe that inspections should be tightened. We believe that the deal does not deal with Iran's ballistic missile program, nor does it deal with Iran's support for terrorism and interference in affairs of the country of the region." 

"I believe that if Iran restarts its enrichment program beyond what it has right now, that should trigger the snapback provisions and cause all the other P5 countries to abandon the deal and re-impose sanctions on Iran."

"We will do whatever it takes to protect our people. We have made it very clear that if Iran acquires a nuclear capability, we will do everything we can to do the same." 

May 9, 2018, speaking to CNN


Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"​The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supports and welcomes the steps announced by President Donald Trump regarding the United States’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.  The Kingdom also supports reinstating economic sanctions on the Iranian regime, which have been suspended under the nuclear deal.

The Kingdom’s previous support for the nuclear deal concluded by Iran and the P5+1 group of countries was based on Saudi Arabia’s conviction in the need to take all possible steps that may assist in nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and the world.  The Iranian regime however, took advantage of the economic benefits afforded by the lifting of sanctions and used them to continue its destabilizing activities in the region, especially by developing its ballistic missiles and supporting terrorist organizations in the region, including Hizbollah and the Houthi militias, which used the capabilities provided by Iran to target civilians in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, as well as, repeatedly targeting international shipping lanes in a blatant violation of  UN Security Council resolutions.

The Kingdom reaffirms its support of the strategy previously announced by President Trump towards Iran, and hopes the international community will take a firm and unified stance against the Iranian regime, and its destabilizing aggression in the region, its support to terrorist groups, particularly Hizbollah and the Houthis militias, and its support of the Assad regime—who has committed heinous crimes against its people that led to the death of more than half a million civilians, including through the use of chemical weapons.

Based on this position, the Kingdom asserts its commitment to work with its partners in the United States and the international community to reach the goals announced by President Trump, and the necessity to address the dangers posed by the policies of Iran on international peace and security through a holistic approach, that is not limited to its nuclear program, but addresses its hostile activities, including Iran's interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region, its support of terrorism, and to prevent Iran from ever possessing weapons of mass destruction."

May 9, 2018, in a statement


United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"The United Arab Emirates has announced its support to the decision announced by US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran for various reasons that he mentioned in speech tonight, including that the agreement does not guarantee Iran would refrain from pursuing a nuclear weapons in the future. The UAE welcomed President Trump strategy on that regard.

In a statement released today, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, called on the international community and the other states that are party to the agreement, to support President Trump’s stand for making the Middle East a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, in order to maintain global security and stability."

May 9, 2018, in a statement


Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"The Kingdom of Bahrain supports the decision of the President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump, to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran and to re-impose severe sanctions against the Iranian regime. This decision reflects the commitment of the United States to confront Iranian policies and Iran's continuous attempts to spread terrorism in the region in full violation of international norms and laws. The agreement was characterized by several shortcomings, most important of which was not addressing Iran's ballistic missile program, nor Iran's threat to the security and stability of the region through its interference in the internal affairs of other countries as well as its support for militias in these countries.

The Kingdom of Bahrain affirms its solidarity with the decision taken by President Donald J. Trump, noting its support for the efforts of the United States that aim to end terrorism at both the regional and international levels. The Kingdom of Bahrain also calls upon all other signatories to the agreement to consider the security and peace of the region and to take steps similar to those of the United States of America.

The Kingdom of Bahrain reiterates its support for all efforts aimed at freeing the Middle East of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, stressing its stance towards all measures taken to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, to combat its funding and support of extremist militias in the region, and to urge Iran to respect its neighbors' sovereignty and not interfere in their internal affairs."

May 9, 2018, in a statement


Oman Minsitry of Foreign Affairs

"We believe the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran are interested in realizing peace and stability in the region, and the choice of confrontation is not in the interest of either side." 

May 9, 2018, in a statement, according to Reuters


Iraq Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Iraqi Foreign Ministry is following with great interest the recent and serious developments regarding US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the nuclear agreement, which is in the interest of escalation and will not benefit from it except the destruction and the wars that the region suffered so much. The Ministry also calls upon all parties to do their utmost to avoid the repercussions. And to maintain the positive results achieved in this complex issue, of which Iraq was one of the first countries to welcome its signing because of its significant impact on the establishment of peace in the Middle East.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs regrets the attitude of the President of the United States is hasty and unaccounted for and welcomes the decision of the remaining five members of the group to its moderate position to adhere to the agreement and not to withdraw from it and push towards solutions of an international rather than individual nature to contribute to regional and international security and stability.

May 9, 2018, in a statement


Syria Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"Syria strongly condemns the US president's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran, which shows once again that the United States is not honouring its commitments and international agreements."

May 9, 2018, in a statement, according to SANA News Agency, via The New Indian Express


Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al Safadi

“We all need to work together in making sure that we solve the conflicts of the region ... and strive for a Middle East that is free of all weapons of mass destruction.”

“If we do not look at the political picture and ... find a way to ensure that the whole region is free of (these weapons), we’ll be looking at a lot of dangerous repercussions that will affect the region in terms of an arms race.”

May 8, 2018, to the media before President Trump's announcement, according to Reuters


Egypt Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"Egypt is closely following up a decision taken Tuesday by U.S. President Donald Trump to exit the Iran deal." 

"Egypt understands the U.S. and international keenness to address all regional and international concerns related to the nuclear deal with Iran and Iran's interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries." 

"The ministry called on Iran to fulfill its obligations in accordance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Ensuring the continuation of its status as a non-nuclear weapon state and enhancing the chances of establishing a Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, which will promote stability and peace in the region." 

May 9, 2018, in a statement, according to Egypt Today


Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"Turkey has always maintained that diplomacy and negotiations are the only way to resolve the problem on Iran’s nuclear program and made intensive efforts to this end at the time.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), which was adopted in 2015, is a significant step taken in the area of non-proliferation. The Plan demonstrated that even the toughest challenges could be resolved through negotiations.

All periodic reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), mandated to monitor the implementation of the deal in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, confirm Iran’s compliance with the deal. We thus consider the decision of the US to withdraw from the JCPoA as an unfortunate step.

We continue to believe that any issue should be addressed in appropriate fora, through the appropriate mechanisms and diplomatic means. The Joint Commission mechanism foreseen in the JCPoA should be operational in resolving issues regarding the Plan.

The JCPoA should be preserved and implemented fully and without interruption, in a transparent manner and under the monitoring of the IAEA."

May 8, 2018, in a statement



Click here for President Trump's remarks. 

Click here for the U.S. Treasury's statements on sanctions. 

Click here for Iran's response. 

Click here for world reactions. 

Click here for congressional remarks. 

Click here for Obama-era officials' reactions. 

Click here for analysis by foreign policy and non-proliferation experts. 

Click here for Iranian media coverage.