Washington: From the time of his electoral campaign, Donald Trump was one of the biggest opponents of Iran and the hard-won nuclear agreement, which he tore up in May. His stated aim is to stop Iran’s ballistic program and its influence in the Middle East.
On August 16, 2015, the American billionaire and Republican presidential front-runner says that the nuclear accord with world powers will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear bomb. “They are going to be such a wealthy, such a powerful nation, they’re going to have nuclear weapons. They are going to take over parts of the world that you wouldn’t believe and I think it’s going to lead to nuclear holocaust,” Trump says.
‘Dismantle’ the agreement
Trump insists on March 22, 2016 that his “number one priority” is to dismantle the agreement, as he and Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton court a massive crowd of pro-Israel lobbyists. “This deal is catastrophic for Israel — for America, for the whole of the Middle East,” he says.
Iran ‘playing with fire’
Ten days after Trump comes to office the White House signals a tougher stance towards Iran, condemning a recent missile test and declaring America is putting the Islamic republic “on notice” following its “malign actions.”
On February 3, Trump tweets “Iran is playing with fire — they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!”
On May 21, 2017, Trump calls on all countries to “isolate” Iran in a speech in Riyadh.
“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region,” he declares.
On September 19, 2017, the US president says that the nuclear accord is “an embarrassment to the United States” and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”
Trump tells the UN General Assembly Iran’s government turned the “wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state.”
‘Brutal, corrupt’ regime
On January 1, 2018, Trump says it is “time for change” in Iran after days of deadly protests against the government in Tehran, along with economic difficulties and corruption.
A day later he denounces the “brutal and corrupt” regime in Iran.
“The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The US is watching!” he says.
Trump tears up deal
Describing the deal as “defective at its core,” he says at the White House: “Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie.”
“Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States.”
‘Never, ever threaten the United States’
On July 22, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tells the US it should not “play with the lion’s tail” and warns any conflict with Iran would be the “mother of all wars”.
Trump responds with an all-caps Twitter tirade, warning “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”
On July 30, however, Trump says he is ready to meet with Iranian leaders “anytime they want” and promises “no preconditions.”
“Threats, sanctions & PR stunts won’t work,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says on Twitter.
On August 6, Trump says he is “open” to a new Iran deal, while confirming a return to sanctions.
“I remain open to reaching a more comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of the regime’s malign activities, including its ballistic missile programme and its support for terrorism,” Trump says in a statement.