Progress slow in Trump's push to re-write Iran nuclear deal

Republican US Senator Bob Corker

U.S. President Donald Trump appears increasingly willing to defy some of his top generals, as his administration grapples with how best to deal with Iran.

A European diplomat involved in the discussions told Israel's Channel 10 that despite Trump's threats to walk away from the Iran deal on May 12, when it is up for renewal, the gaps between the U.S. and other signatories who want to safeguard the accord are actually narrowing.

In opening remarks before a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Trump crowed about the sales, running through a list of $12.5 billion in approved arms purchases by Saudi Arabia and previewing billions more to come.

Merkel also reportedly said that Germany, Britain and France are opposed to any significant changes in the 2015 accord.

President Donald Trump offered new hints he's likely to quit the global agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program next month, potentially scrapping a deal struck by his predecessor that he opposed before taking office and has criticized often since.

Saudi Arabia has historically taken a diplomatic approach toward the region.

"We are engaged in contingency planning because it would not be responsible not to", said Hook, the lead USA negotiator in the talks with the Europeans.

Trump's focus on Saudi purchases of US military equipment came amid a bipartisan effort to limit the United States' role in Yemen's civil war and protests in several USA cities over the Saudi-led invasion, which has contributed to a humanitarian crisis.

"From a command that's about nuclear [threats], that's an important piece to me", he said.

Richard Goldberg, an Iran deal foe and former GOP congressional aide, said it was "hard to believe" that Trump would allow Iran more leniency for shorter-range missiles "that can wipe out US bases and allies like Israel".

"When you look at the Iran deal, I think it's bad". "There would be some concern [in the region], I think, about how we meant to address that particular threat if it was not being addressed through the JCPOA".

Hook said his instructions on seeking a supplementary deal with the Europeans to try to toughen measures toward Iran had not changed since Trump unceremoniously fired his boss, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a tweet last week.

Pushing for significant changes to the deal almost three years after its signing would destroy America's credibility in future negotiating, Merkel added.

European diplomats said they were engaging in the negotiations with the United States in good faith, but acknowledged uncertainty about what Trump would decide to do. "I wanted to either break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently".

Trump accused the group of "corruption and mismanagement" and said that the "regime employs propaganda and censorship to hide the fact that the Iranian regime plunders Iran's wealth and abuses its people".

"We're looking at ways in which we can push back against Iran's nefarious activities in the region", he added.

The only thing this deal has accomplished is providing a brutal dictatorship with billions of dollars in assets to help them continue to fund terrorism and war.

Hook said if there is no agreement by May, Trump will certainly withdraw.

"We are taking a comprehensive look", chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told reporters March 15, 2018. "Do you want that to happen?" she asked.

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