Trump on Iran nuclear revival: 'They're going to have big problems'

By Sara Shayanian  |  April 24, 2018 at 2:46 PM
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April 24 (UPI) -- During an official state visit by French President Emmanuel Macron Tuesday, President Donald Trump warned Iran against restarting its nuclear program -- promising "big problems" if it does.

The pair discussed several issues during meetings at the White House Oval Office, South Lawn and Cabinet Room Tuesday.

Acknowledging some differences on the 2015 nuclear deal, Trump said the United States and France have agreed Iran must end its support of "terrorism" -- adding, "no matter where you go in the Middle East, you see the fingerprints of Iran."

"We're not going to allow certain things to happen that are happening," he added.

The president was stern in his warning for Tehran against restarting its nuclear program, which was shuttered under the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"If they restart it, they're going to have big problems -- bigger than they've ever had before," Trump said.

Macron said "it's not a mystery" Trump has a differing view about the deal, and noted it's his decision whether to keep the United States in the pact.

"We, therefore, wish from now on to work on a new deal with Iran," Macron said. "France is not naive when it comes to Iran, but we also have a lot of respect for the Iranian people."

When asked whether he'd changed his mind on keeping the original deal, Macron said not necessarily.

"I'm not saying we're moving from one deal to another," he said. "We can add to it."

Trump has repeatedly criticized the deal and threatened to withdraw the United States from the pact if what he views as problems aren't fixed by May 12.

"We could have made a good deal or a reasonable deal. The Iran deal is a terrible deal," he said in the Oval Office Tuesday. "We paid $150 billion. We gave $1.8 billion in cash. That's actual cash, barrels of cash. It's insane. It's ridiculous. It should have never been made. But we will be talking about it."

Macron added that the deal is part of a "broader" picture on national and Middle East security.

"We have the Syrian situation, we have upcoming election in Iraq, and we have the stability to preserve for our allies in region. And what we want to do is to contain the Iranian presence in the region," he said.

On Syria, Macron said he hoped Trump and other world leaders will help find a solution to the ongoing civil war.

Trump said he would like to get U.S. troops back home, but didn't want to open up the region to further Iranian influence.

"We want to come home," Trump said. "But we want to leave a strong and lasting footprint."

Calling Macron a "great friend," Trump also thanked him for his leadership in the effort to conduct military strikes on Syria two weeks ago.

The U.S. president added that a "campaign of maximum pressure" against North Korea will continue in upcoming talks.

"We will not make the mistake of past administrations," Trump said, adding that he hasn't made any concessions to North Korea.

Earlier in the Oval Office, Trump touted his relationship with the French president.

"They're all saying what a great relationship we have, and they're actually correct," he told Macron, before wiping away a "little piece of dandruff" from the French leader's suit.

"We have to make him perfect. He is perfect."

Macron arrived in Washington Monday, accompanied by French first lady Brigitte Macron.

The Trump administration's first state visit started with a visit to Mount Vernon Monday, where Trump, first lady Melania Trump and the Macrons had a private dinner and visited the grave of former President George Washington.

Earlier Monday, the four planted a tree gifted by the Macrons on the South Lawn of the White House.

Wednesday, Macron is set to address a joint session of Congress.

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