Trump Speech on Iran: World Reacts

October 13, 2017

In response to President Trump’s speech on October 13, the other signatories to the nuclear deal made the following statements.


Declaration by the Heads of State and Government of France, Germany and the United Kingdom

We, the Leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom take note of President Trump’s decision not to recertify Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to Congress and are concerned by the possible implications.

We stand committed to the JCPoA and its full implementation by all sides. Preserving the JCPoA is in our shared national security interest. The nuclear deal was the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy and was a major step towards ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programme is not diverted for military purposes. The JCPoA was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2231. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance with the JCPoA through its long-term verification and monitoring programme. Therefore, we encourage the US Administration and Congress to consider the implications to the security of the US and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine the JCPoA, such as re-imposing sanctions on Iran lifted under the agreement.

At the same time as we work to preserve the JCPoA, we share concerns about Iran's ballistic missile programme and regional activities that also affect our European security interests. We stand ready to take further appropriate measures to address these issues in close cooperation with the US and all relevant partners. We look to Iran to engage in constructive dialogue to stop de-stabilising actions and work towards negotiated solutions.

Our governments are committed to ensuring the JCPoA is maintained. Independent of the JCPOA, we need to make sure that our collective wider concerns are being addressed.

We have asked our Foreign Ministers to consider with the US how to take these issues forward.

—Oct. 13, 2017, in a joint statement



European Union

High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini

More than 2 years ago, in July 2015, the international community welcomed the result of 12 years of intense negotiations on the Iranian nuclear programme: 104 pages, full of technical details, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the JCPOA.

It is not a bilateral agreement, it does not belong to any single country and it is not up to any single country to terminate it. It is a multilateral agreement that was unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231. It is a robust deal that provides guarantees and a strong monitoring mechanism that Iran nuclear programme is and will remain exclusively for civilian purposes only.

We cannot afford, as international community - as EU for sure -, to dismantle a nuclear agreement that is working and delivering, especially now. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, has verified 8 times that Iran is implementing all its nuclear-related commitments following a comprehensive and strict monitoring system.
There have been no violations of any of the commitments included in the agreement. The scope of the agreement relates to the nuclear programme and it is being fulfilled. The deal has prevented, continues to prevent, and will continue to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action represents a key and functioning pillar of the international non-proliferation architecture that is even more important to preserve at a time of acute nuclear threat.

We believe we have a collective responsibility to preserve it for our own collective security.
The United States' domestic process – and I underline domestic – following today's announcement of President Trump is now in the hands of the United States' Congress. The JCPOA is not a domestic issue but a United Nations Security Council Resolution.
The international community, and the European Union with it, has clearly indicated that the deal is and will continue to be in place. The European Union continues to fully support the Iran nuclear deal, and the full and strict implementation of all its provisions by all parties.
The European Union, together with the rest of the international community, is committed to preserve it, to the benefit of all, including the Iranian people.

Question: Can Mr Trump terminate the deal? You just said he cannot, he just said he can. Which one of you is right? Can you explain that to us? And secondly and crucially, if Mr Tillerson comes to you in January or February after a change in the US law - if that happens - and says, “let's work on a successor separate agreement dealing with ballistic missiles and sunsets in the agreement or Mr Trump will kill this deal”, what will you say to him?

Mogherini: I just spoke to Secretary [of State of the United States of America, Rex] Tillerson and that was not part of our conversation.

I do not need to explain to you who know the agreement very well. This deal is not a bilateral agreement. This is not an international treaty. This is an annex, a very long annex, to a UN Security Council Resolution, unanimously adopted.

To my knowledge, there is not one single country in the world that can terminate a UN Security Council Resolution that has been adopted, even more so, unanimously, that has been implemented and verified, and that the rest of the international community continues to support and to implement.

It is clearly not in the hands of any president of any country in the world to terminate an agreement of this sort. Because this a UN Security Council Resolution. This is a plan of action that sets things to be done, nuclear-related commitments – and only nuclear-related commitments – and that is being implemented.

So, the President of the United States has many powers, not this one.

In the future, I believe – as I said – the rest of the international community, and for sure the European Union, will preserve the agreement.

Can anything else be negotiated? I guess someone who has experience as a deal-maker knows that to make a deal, you need to have an interlocutor who is interested and ready to negotiate to get to an agreement. And you should ask this question in Tehran right now.

For the moment, this agreement is working, has been implemented, continues to be implemented and I - not only as the High Representative of the European Union, but also as the one who has the responsibility to continue to oversee the implementation of the agreement in place - would expect all to continue to stick to it, as it has been now the case for almost two years.

Oct. 13, 2017, in a statement

Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by H.E. Ms. Joanne Adamson, Chargé d’Affaires

Mr President,

The Candidate Countries* Montenegro* and Albania* align themselves with this statement.

Mr President,

On 16 October, the 28 Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the European Union adopted a statement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the culmination of 12 years of diplomacy facilitated by the EU, unanimously endorsed by UN Security Council resolution 2231. The successful implementation of the JCPOA continues to ensure that Iran’s nuclear programme remains exclusively peaceful. While the EU expresses its concerns related to ballistic missiles and increasing tensions in the region, the EU reiterates the need to address them outside the JCPOA and it is determined to preserve the JCPOA as a key pillar of the international non-proliferation architecture.
—Oct. 18, 2017, in a statement


E.U. Press Statement

1. The JCPOA, the culmination of 12 years of diplomacy facilitated by the EU, unanimously endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, is a key element of the nuclear non-proliferation global architecture and crucial for the security of the region. Its successful implementation continues to ensure that Iran's nuclear programme remains exclusively peaceful. The EU underlines that the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified 8 times that Iran is implementing all its nuclear related commitments following a comprehensive and strict monitoring system.

2. The EU is committed to the continued full and effective implementation of all parts of the JCPOA. The EU underlines that the lifting of nuclear related sanctions has a positive impact on trade and economic relations with Iran including benefits for the Iranian people. It strengthens cooperation and allows for continuous dialogue with Iran.

3. The European Union considers President Trump's decision not to certify Iran's compliance with the Joint Comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA) as being in the context of an internal US process. The EU encourages the US to maintain its commitment to the JCPOA and to consider the implications for the security of the US, its partners and the region before taking further steps.

4. While the EU expresses its concerns related to ballistic missiles and increasing tensions in the region, it reiterates the need to address them outside the JCPOA, in the relevant formats and fora . The EU stands ready to actively promote and support initiatives to ensure a more stable, peaceful and secure regional environment.

5. At a time of acute nuclear threat the EU is determined to preserve the JCPOA as a key pillar of the international non-proliferation architecture.

—Oct. 16, 2017, in a statement



President Emmanuel Macron

“What I told him was not to tear up the deal. After that I told him, let’s have a demanding dialogue, let’s continue to conduct checks, but let’s be much more demanding with Iran on its ballistic activity.”

“I speak constantly to the U.S. president because it’s my duty.”

“He is the president of the (world’s) first power, so it’s important to anchor him in this partnership, in this multilateral approach.”

—Oct. 15, 2017, in an interview with TF1 and LCI



Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel

“My big concern is that what is happening in Iran or with Iran from the U.S. perspective will not remain an Iranian issue but many others in the world will consider whether they themselves should acquire nuclear weapons too given that such agreements are being destroyed.”

“And then our children and grandchildren will grow up in a very dangerous world.”

“Then they might revert to developing nuclear weapons… then we will be back where we were 10, 12 years ago with the danger of war relatively close to Europe.”

—Oct. 15, 2017, in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio via Reuters



Press Secretary for the President of Russia, Dmitri S. Peskov

U.S. withdrawal from the deal “undoubtedly will affect the atmosphere of predictability, security, stability and nonproliferation in the world.”

—Oct. 13, 2017, to reporters via Tass


International Atomic Energy Agency

Director General Yukiya Amano

Since January 2016, the IAEA has been verifying and monitoring Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as requested by the United Nations Security Council and authorized by the IAEA’s Board of Governors.

As I have reported to the Board of Governors, the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the JCPOA are being implemented.

The IAEA’s verification and monitoring activities address all the nuclear-related elements under the JCPOA. They are undertaken in an impartial and objective manner and in accordance with the modalities defined by the JCPOA and standard safeguards practice.

Iran is now provisionally implementing the Additional Protocol to its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, a powerful verification tool which gives our inspectors broader access to information and locations in Iran. So far, the IAEA has had access to all locations it needed to visit.

At present, Iran is subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime.

—Oct. 13, 2017, in a statement


Former Officials

Aspen Ministers Forum Statement on Iran Nuclear Deal

Dear Speaker Ryan, Leader Pelosi, Leader McConnell, and Leader Schumer,

We are a group of 25 former foreign ministers who have just met for consultations on transatlantic relations and other key international security issues. We have been closely following the debate in the United States over the Iran nuclear agreement and we understand that it is now up to Congress to maintain U.S. compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). We urge you to uphold the agreement, and not to take any unilateral action that seeks to expand, alter or renegotiate the terms of the JCPOA.

While President Trump has refused to certify compliance with the JCPOA, top national security officials in his administration have affirmed that Iran is meeting its commitments. Those conclusions are shared by the other parties to the agreement Britain, China, France, Germany, the European Union, and Russia. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is responsible for monitoring and verifying the JCPOA, has issued eight reports since 2015 documenting that Iran has taken the steps required under the agreement to limit its nuclear capabilities, while submitting to an intrusive inspection regime.

A unilateral withdrawal from the agreement would have far-reaching adverse consequences for the security of the United States and standing in the world. Most immediately, it would give Iran justification to kick out inspectors and restart its nuclear program. Under such a scenario, it would be impossible for the international community to reassemble the sanctions regime which had previously constrained Iran. The United States would be left with the unpalatable choice of accepting a nuclear-armed Iran or pursuing far less effective actions on its own, in isolation from the international community.

With the other nations who are parties to the JCPOA strongly supporting its continuation, a U.S. withdrawal would also create a rift in the transatlantic alliance, threatening one of the pillars of international stability. In addition, withdrawal would undermine U.S. credibility in future negotiations over other issues, as countries would no longer view the United States as a reliable or predictable party. The termination of the JCPOA would make it virtually impossible to reach any diplomatic agreement with North Korea, whose nuclear weapons program is a pressing international threat.

Absent evidence that Iran is failing to comply with the agreement, there is simply no justification for the United States to walk away from the nuclear deal. The Trump administration has argued that destabilizing activities in the region, including its sponsorship of terrorism and its support for the regimes in Syria and Yemen, violate the spirit of the JCPOA. But what matters in this case is whether Iran is following the verifiable, enforceable details of the nuclear agreement. According to all credible assessments, it is.

As troubled as we are by destabilizing actions, these issues were not a part of the negotiations, which focused solely on nuclear program. There are many tools still at disposal to pressure Iran on its malign activities, and the JCPOA actually constrains the Iranian threat by preventing it from backing up those activities with a nuclear deterrent. Allowing the agreement to unravel including through unilateral steps to expand, alter or renegotiate the JCPOA would make the Middle East more dangerous, not less.

Each one of us has participated in international negotiations where the United States was a key participant. We know from experience that the world counts on the United States to live up to its commitments. If the United States loses its credibility, the consequences for its security, and the security of its allies, would be disastrous. Given these grave implications, we urge you to preserve this agreement, while working with friends and allies to strengthen the international consensus against a nuclear-armed Iran.

Thank you for your consideration,

Madeleine Albright
United States

Lloyd Axworthy

Mayu Avila
El Salvador

Mohamed Benaissa

Erik Derycke

Shlomo Ben-Ami

Alexander Downer

Lamberto Dini

Jan Eliasson

Benita Ferrero-Waldner

Joschka Fischer

Jaime Gama

Marina Kaljurand

Don McKinnon
New Zealand

Daniel Mitov

Amre Moussa

Marwan Muasher

Claudia Ruiz Massieu

George Papandreou

Surin Pitsuwan

Malcolm Rifkind
United Kingdom

Adam Rotfeld

Borys Tarasyuk

Hubert Védrine

Knut Vollebæk

—Oct. 18, 2017, in an open letter


Former Secretary of State John Kerry


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

"I think it’s very dangerous. I think his talk about decertifying compliance, against the advice as I understand from even the people in his own administration as well as many voices on the outside, sends the wrong message for a number of reasons.

“First of all, it basically says America’s word is not good. That even in the absence of evidence that Iran is not complying with the Iran nuclear deal, that this president is going to upend it. That is bad not just on the merts for this particular situation but it sends a message across the globe that America’s word is not good. We have different presidents and this particular president is, I think, upending the kind of trust and credibility of the United States’ position and negotiation that is imperative to maintain.

“Secondly, it once again gives Iran an advantage. If Iran is complying, which all the evidence is, then all of a sudden instead of working to isolate Iran on every issue, we are giving Iran the spotlight. The aggrieved party the spotlight. That makes us look foolish and small and plays right into Iranian hands.

“Third point. This nuclear deal was to put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program. Which it has. That doesn’t mean Iran is not engaging in other bad behavior, which we always knew. I began the negotiations on the Iran deal. I got the sanctions though the Security Council as Secretary of State. I know Iran plays a game of aggressiveness and undermining of our interests and the interests of the region. There’s no argument about that. But my point has been and remains: I would much rather deal with Iran’s other bad behavior while not worrying at this moment about their nuclear program getting up and going again. And why on earth would we want two nuclear challenges, in Iran and North Korea, at the same time?"

—Oct. 13, 2017, on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS


Former Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz

“The United States rallied the world to isolate and enforce tough sanctions against Iran and then used that leverage to negotiate the most comprehensive agreement ever to prevent a country from developing a nuclear weapon. For two years, that agreement has been working, and Iran has been verifiably complying with its terms. By threatening to pull out of the accord at any time, passing the matter to Congress and urging Congress to impose new conditions on Iran unilaterally, President Trump is taking global pressure off Iran, isolating the United States and precipitating a diplomatic crisis with serious consequences where there was none.

“The agreement put an ironclad straitjacket on Iran’s ability to develop or obtain a nuclear weapon. Under the agreement, Iran has dismantled key aspects of its nuclear program, and it has and must continue to allow international inspectors continuous monitoring and verification, with the ability to access any site -- including military sites -- where nuclear activity is suspected. The most important aspects of the agreement are permanent -- a prohibition on Iran ever having a nuclear weapon or a nuclear weapons program and the most comprehensive verification and transparency measures that currently exist. Those who argue that the agreement permits Iran to become a nuclear weapon state after 10 or 15 years are flat out wrong.

“President Trump wants to scrap this deal because it didn’t address the full range of Iran’s concerning behavior in the region. What he fails to acknowledge is that having Iran’s nuclear program tied down by the restrictions, transparency and verification in this agreement makes it easier to address the range of Iran’s regional activities that rightly concern us. The nuclear deal created the space and international support to address these issues.

“Our European allies, who are signatories to the agreement, had been prepared to elevate confrontation of Iran’s unacceptable regional behavior in concert with the United States, Israel and the Gulf countries by building on the foundation of the nuclear agreement. These allies have now made it clear that President Trump’s rejection of the agreement has put us on a path to a dangerous isolation. International cooperation on Iran sanctions was essential to their effectiveness and to constraining and providing visibility into Iran’s nuclear program, and American leadership and ability to work with other countries is necessary for resolving longstanding challenges in the Middle East and globally.

“With President Trump now asking the Congress to decide whether and when to abandon an agreement that is internationally certified to be working and is unquestionably effective in arresting any attempt by Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, he has created a predicate for Iran also to take unilateral action to seek modifications or simply withdraw from the agreement. In plain words, the president has taken the decision to break with the agreement and seek new outcomes whose details and fate are now assigned to 535 members of the Congress. We always hope for wisdom from our Congress. We will need that wisdom now more than ever. An effort to unilaterally change the nuclear agreement would not meet that standard.

“A nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to the region and the world and must never be allowed to happen. The 2015 nuclear agreement is a cornerstone for preventing that outcome, and it would be a strategic and tactical blunder of enormous proportion for the United States to break the agreement.”

—Oct. 15, 2017, in a statement posted by the Nuclear Threat Initiative


Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright