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Trump Again Criticizes Iran Nuclear Deal, Asks Israel To 'Hold Back' On Settlements


WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump has again vowed to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and has criticized the landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers.

Speaking at a February 15 news conference alongside visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump also criticized statements at the United Nations and other international bodies that he said were treating Israel "very, very unfairly."

Netanyahu's visit to Washington was his first since Trump took office on January 20.

During the election campaign, Trump criticized the Iran nuclear deal that was implemented in 2016 -- lifting international sanctions against Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program meant to ensure Tehran cannot develop nuclear weapons.

Earlier in February, Trump imposed new sanctions on Iran in response to its recent ballistic-missile tests.

During the February 15 news conference, both Trump and Netanyahu denounced the nuclear accord, which Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, saw as one of the principal foreign-policy achievements of his eight years in office.

"One of the worst deals I've ever seen is the Iran deal. My administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing -- I mean ever -- a nuclear weapon," Trump said.

The two leaders presented a largely united front on a range of issues at the news conference, with Netanyahu praising Trump as a friend to the Jewish people.

Trump has pledged stronger backing for Israel and the Netanyahu government, which clashed repeatedly with Obama.

A flashpoint in the final month of Obama's presidency was Washington's decision to abstain from a UN Security Council vote condemning expanded settlements in the West Bank pushed by Netanyahu's government. The decision to abstain was a small, but remarkable shift after decades of U.S. policy toward Israel.

While denouncing what he called "unfair" treatment of Israel in the United Nations, Trump told Netanyahu that his government should "hold back a little bit" on the building of new settlement housing in the occupied West Bank, which has been criticized by Palestinian authorities.

Trump added that Washington "will encourage a peace and really a great peace deal" between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We will be working on it very, very diligently.... But it is the parties themselves who must directly negotiate such an agreement," he said.

In his public remarks, Trump also avoided any explicit endorsement of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That effort, which calls for negotiating firm borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state, has been a bedrock of U.S. Middle East policy for years.

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