May 8, 2018
PRESIDENT TRUMP: My fellow Americans,
Today, I want to update the world on our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
The Iranian regime is the leading state sponsor of terror. It exports dangerous missiles, fuels conflicts across the Middle East, and supports terrorist proxies and militias such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Over the years, Iran and its proxies have bombed American Embassies and military installations, murdered hundreds of American service members, and kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured American citizens.
The Iranian regime has funded its long reign of chaos and terror by plundering the wealth of its own people.
No action taken by the regime has been more dangerous than its pursuit of nuclear weapons — and the means of delivering them.
In 2015, the previous administration joined with other nations in a deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program. This agreement was known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or J.C.P.O.A.
In theory, the so-called “Iran deal” was supposed to protect the United States and our allies from the lunacy of an Iranian nuclear bomb, a weapon that will only endanger the survival of the Iranian regime.
In fact, the deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium and — over time — reach the brink of a nuclear breakout.
The deal lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for very weak limits on the regime’s nuclear activity — and no limits at all on its other malign behavior, including its sinister activities in Syria, Yemen, and other places all around the world.
In other words, at the point when the United States had maximum leverage, this disastrous deal gave this regime — and it’s a regime of great terror — many billions of dollars, some of it in actual cash — a great embarrassment to me as a citizen and to all citizens of the United States.
A constructive deal could easily have been struck at the time, but it wasn’t.
At the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction: that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program.
Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie. Last week, Israel published intelligence documents — long concealed by Iran — conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.
The fact is, this was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.
In the years since the deal was reached, Iran’s military budget has grown by almost 40 percent — while its economy is doing very badly. After the sanctions were lifted, the dictatorship used its new funds to build its nuclear-capable missiles, support terrorism, and cause havoc throughout the Middle East and beyond.
The agreement was so poorly negotiated that even if Iran fully complies, the regime can still be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in just a short period of time. The deal’s sunset provisions are totally unacceptable.
If I allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Everyone would want their weapons ready by the time Iran had theirs.
Making matters worse, the deal’s inspection provisions lack adequate mechanisms to prevent, detect, and punish cheating and don’t even have the unqualified right to inspect many important locations, including military facilities. Not only does the deal fail to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it also fails to address the regime’s development of ballistic missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads.
Finally, the deal does nothing to constrain Iran’s destabilizing activities, including its support for terrorism.
Since the agreement, Iran’s bloody ambitions have grown only more brazen. In light of these glaring flaws, I announced last October that the Iran deal must either be renegotiated or terminated.
Three months later, on January 12th, I repeated these conditions. I made clear that if the deal could not be fixed, the United States would no longer be a party to the agreement.
Over the past few months, we have engaged extensively with our allies and partners around the world, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. We have also consulted with our friends from across the Middle East. We are unified in our understanding of the threat and in our conviction that Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon.
After these consultations, it is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement. The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen. In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.
Therefore, I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
In a few moments, I will sign a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime. We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction. Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States.
America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. And we will not allow a regime that chants “Death to America” to gain access to the most deadly weapons on Earth.
Today’s action sends a critical message. The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them. In fact, at this very moment, Secretary Pompeo is on his way to North Korea in preparation for my upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un. Plans are being made, relationships are building. Hopefully, a deal will happen, and with the help of China, South Korea, and Japan, a future of great prosperity and security can be achieved for everyone.
As we exit the Iran deal, we will be working with our allies to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. This will include efforts to eliminate the threat of Iran’s ballistic missile program, to stop its terrorist activities worldwide, and to block its menacing activity across the Middle East.
In the meantime, powerful sanction also go into full effect. If the regime continues its its nuclear aspirations, it will have bigger problems than it has ever had before. Finally, I want to deliver a message to the long-suffering people of Iran.
The people of America stand with you.
It has now been almost 40 years since this dictatorship seized power and took a proud nation hostage. Most of Iran’s 80 million citizens have sadly never known an Iran that prospered in peace with its neighbors and commanded the admiration of the world.
But the future of Iran belongs to its people. They are the rightful heirs to a rich culture and an ancient land, and they deserve a nation that does justice to their dreams, honor to their history and glory to God.
Iran’s leaders will naturally say that they refuse to negotiate a new deal. They refuse, and that’s fine. I’d probably say the same thing if I was in their position. But the fact is, they are going to want to make a new and lasting deal, one that benefits all of Iran and the Iranian people.
When they do, I am ready, willing, and able. Great things can happen for Iran. And great things can happen for the peace and stability that we all want in the Middle East. There has been enough suffering, death, and destruction. Let it end now.
Thank you. God bless you. Thank you.
May 8, 2018
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE
THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
THE SECRETARY OF ENERGY
THE SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OF
THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
THE UNITED STATES PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE
TO THE UNITED NATIONS
THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
THE DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL
THE COUNSEL TO THE PRESIDENT
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR ECONOMIC
THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
THE DIRECTOR OF THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF
SUBJECT: Ceasing United States Participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and Taking Additional Action to Counter Iran’s Malign Influence and Deny Iran All Paths to a Nuclear Weapon
As President, my highest priority is to ensure the safety and security of the United States and the American people. Since its inception in 1979 as a revolutionary theocracy, the Islamic Republic of Iran has declared its hostility to the United States and its allies and partners. Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and provides assistance to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, al-Qa’ida, and other terrorist networks. Iran also continues to fuel sectarian violence in Iraq, and support vicious civil wars in Yemen and Syria. It commits grievous human rights abuses, and arbitrarily detains foreigners, including United States citizens, on spurious charges without due process of law.
There is no doubt that Iran previously attempted to bolster its revolutionary aims through the pursuit of nuclear weapons and that Iran’s uranium enrichment program continues to give it the capability to reconstitute its weapons-grade uranium program if it so chooses. As President, I have approved an integrated strategy for Iran that includes the strategic objective of denying Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon.
The preceding administration attempted to meet the threat of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear capabilities through United States participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program. The JCPOA lifted nuclear-related sanctions on Iran and provided it with other significant benefits in exchange for its temporary commitments to constrain its uranium enrichment program and to not conduct work related to nuclear fuel reprocessing, the two critical pathways to acquiring weapons-grade nuclear material. Some believed the JCPOA would moderate Iran’s behavior. Since the JCPOA’s inception, however, Iran has only escalated its destabilizing activities in the surrounding region. Iranian or Iran-backed forces have gone on the march in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and continue to control parts of Lebanon and Gaza. Meanwhile, Iran has publicly declared it would deny the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to military sites in direct conflict with the Additional Protocol to its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. In 2016, Iran also twice violated the JCPOA’s heavy water stockpile limits. This behavior is unacceptable, especially for a regime known to have pursued nuclear weapons in violation of its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Iran’s behavior threatens the national interest of the United States. On October 13, 2017, consistent with certification procedures stipulated in the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, I determined that I was unable to certify that the suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA was appropriate and proportionate to the specific and verifiable measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program. On January 12, 2018, I outlined two possible paths forward — the JCPOA’s disastrous flaws would be fixed by May 12, 2018, or, failing that, the United States would cease participation in the agreement. I made clear that this was a last chance, and that absent an understanding to fix the JCPOA, the United States would not continue to implement it.
That understanding has not materialized, and I am today making good on my pledge to end the participation of the United States in the JCPOA. I do not believe that continuing to provide JCPOA-related sanctions relief to Iran is in the national interest of the United States, and I will not affirm what I know to be false. Further, I have determined that it is in the national interest of the United States to re-impose sanctions lifted or waived in connection with the JCPOA as expeditiously as possible.
Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the United States that Iran be denied a nuclear weapon and intercontinental ballistic missiles; that Iran’s network and campaign of regional aggression be neutralized; to disrupt, degrade, or deny the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and its surrogates access to the resources that sustain their destabilizing activities; and to counter Iran’s aggressive development of missiles and other asymmetric and conventional weapons capabilities. The United States will continue to pursue these aims and the objectives contained in the Iran strategy that I announced on October 13, 2017, adjusting the ways and means to achieve them as required.
Sec. 2. Ending United States Participation in the JCPOA. The Secretary of State shall, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Energy, take all appropriate steps to cease the participation of the United States in the JCPOA.
Sec. 3. Restoring United States Sanctions. The Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury shall immediately begin taking steps to re-impose all United States sanctions lifted or waived in connection with the JCPOA, including those under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, and the Iran Freedom and Counter-proliferation Act of 2012. These steps shall be accomplished as expeditiously as possible, and in no case later than 180 days from the date of this memorandum. The Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury shall coordinate, as appropriate, on steps needed to achieve this aim. They shall, for example, coordinate with respect to preparing any recommended executive actions, including appropriate documents to re-impose sanctions lifted by Executive Order 13716 of January 16, 2016; preparing to re-list persons removed, in connection with the JCPOA, from any relevant sanctions lists, as appropriate; revising relevant sanctions regulations; issuing limited waivers during the wind-down period, as appropriate; and preparing guidance necessary to educate United States and non-United States business communities on the scope of prohibited and sanctionable activity and the need to unwind any such dealings with Iranian persons. Those steps should be accomplished in a manner that, to the extent reasonably practicable, shifts the financial burden of unwinding any transaction or course of dealing primarily onto Iran or the Iranian counterparty.
Sec. 4. Preparing for Regional Contingencies. The Secretary of Defense and heads of any other relevant agencies shall prepare to meet, swiftly and decisively, all possible modes of Iranian aggression against the United States, our allies, and our partners. The Department of Defense shall ensure that the United States develops and retains the means to stop Iran from developing or acquiring a nuclear weapon and related delivery systems.
Sec. 5. Monitoring Iran’s Nuclear Conduct and Consultation with Allies and Partners. Agencies shall take appropriate steps to enable the United States to continue to monitor Iran’s nuclear conduct. I am open to consultations with allies and partners on future international agreements to counter the full range of Iran’s threats, including the nuclear weapon and intercontinental ballistic missile threats, and the heads of agencies shall advise me, as appropriate, regarding opportunities for such consultations.
Sec. 6. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP