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Full transcript of Trump’s speech pulling U.S. out of Iran nuclear deal
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Full transcript of Trump’s speech pulling U.S. out of Iran nuclear deal

Full transcript of Trump’s speech pulling U.S. out of Iran nuclear deal
Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
President Donald Trump announces his decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room at the White House May 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. 

Full transcript of Trump’s speech pulling U.S. out of Iran nuclear deal

President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he’s pulling the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal after more than two years and no Iranian violations of the pact. Trump, calling it “a one-sided deal,”  cited a number of reasons for the withdrawal, including security and the nation’s continued role in destabilizing the Middle East. Here’s a transcript of the president’s speech.

>> Read more trending news 

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 servicemembers, 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 JCPOA.

>> Related: Trump announces U.S. withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal, critics call it a ‘mistake’

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.

>> Related: Trump moves to start U.S. withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal

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 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.

>> Read more trending news 

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 sanctions will go into full effect. If the regime continues 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.

(The presidential memorandum is signed.)

Reporter: Mr. President, how does this make America safer? How does this make America safer?

Trump: Thank you very much. This will make America much safer. Thank you very much.

Reporter: Is Secretary Pompeo bringing the detainees home?

Trump: Thank you. Secretary Pompeo is, right now, going to North Korea. He will be there very shortly in a matter of virtual — probably an hour. He’s got meetings set up. We have our meeting scheduled. We have our meeting set. The location is picked — the time and the date. Everything is picked. And we look forward to having a very great success.

We think relationships are building with North Korea. We’ll see how it all works out. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But it can be a great thing for North Korea, South Korea, Japan and the entire world. We hope it all works out.

Thank you very much.

Reporter: Are the Americans being freed?

Reporter: Are the Americans coming home, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: We’ll all soon be finding out. We will soon be finding out. It would be a great thing if they are. We’ll soon be finding out. Thank you very much.

END

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Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led to a surprise breakthrough. Maduro handed over Holt and his wife, Thamara Caleno, to Corker in what his government said was a goodwill gesture to promote dialogue and mutual respect between the two antagonistic governments. Holt, 26, traveled to Caracas in June 2016 to marry a fellow Mormon he had met online while looking to improve his Spanish. The couple was waiting for Caleno's U.S. visa when they were arrested at her family's apartment in a government housing complex for what the U.S. considered trumped-up charges of stockpiling an assault rifle and grenades. Although Corker sealed the deal in a few tense hours in Venezuela's collapsing, crime-filled capital, the push to secure Holt's release began months earlier by Corker's top Latin American policy aide, Caleb McCarry, who both Corker and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, credited with leading the painstaking, behind-the-scenes negotiations. 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Rubio warned that Lacava, who embraces the nickname Dracula for his habits of tweeting and patrolling around his state late at night in a Batmobile-like vehicle, was reportedly involved in money laundering, making him too toxic for a White House bent on punishing such criminal activity. When The Associated Press reported on the politically fraught backchannel in March, few imagined it would succeed. Speculation swirled that the government was demanding an all-but-impossible prisoner exchange for Flores' two nephews, who in 2016 were convicted in New York of drug trafficking, after it was learned that a government-connected Venezuelan tycoon was paying Holt's legal fees as well as those of the men branded the 'narco-nephews.' At the same time, the Trump administration was intensifying a campaign to isolate Venezuela's government, sanctioning dozens of officials — including Maduro and Flores — for human rights abuses and drug trafficking while threatening a more crippling ban on oil shipments. An official with the National Security Council stressed that nothing had been offered to secure Holt's release and that there had been no change to U.S. policy to Venezuela. President Donald Trump found out Friday that Holt would be released, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity. Rubio, who has Trump's ear on Latin America but only learned of Corker's visit when he landed in Caracas, said in a statement that the couple's release 'will in no way change U.S. policy towards the dictatorship in Venezuela.' Alfredo Romero, a lawyer who defends some of the opposition activists who were held alongside Holt, said that Maduro may be looking to win over some political sectors in the U.S. to temper Trump's hardline approach toward Venezuela. 'Holt's continued imprisonment was a thorn in the side,' he said. The talks were encouraged by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who met privately with Corker on Thursday morning and finalized details of the senator's trip ahead of testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the State Department budget. 'We're doing all the right things. We have an American there that we desperately want to get back, Joshua Holt. And so know that we are engaged,' Pompeo told lawmakers at the hearing. The government of Cuba was also helpful in pressuring Maduro as well as former Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, one official said. Zapatero has been leading a three-year push to bring the government and opposition together to help resolve Venezuela's economic and political crisis. Still, when Corker left for Caracas on Friday it was still unclear if Maduro would follow through on his pledge to release Holt, the officials said. On Saturday, a beaming Lacava could be seen in a video boarding the Venezuelan government plane that transported Holt to Washington wearing aviator glasses and a dark suit. He walked by the camera shouting 'Dracula on the attack!' and flashing a 'V for Victory' sign. In a photograph taken at the airport in Caracas, Holt can be seen standing alongside Lacava holding a Venezuela national soccer team jersey emblazoned with the governor's name. ___ Goodman reported from Bogota, Colombia.
  • The Latest on the release of a Utah man, Joshua Holt, who has been held in Venezuela (all times local): 8:10 p.m. The wife of the American man held for two years in jail in Venezuela says they worried until their plane was in the air that their release and flight to the U.S. would somehow fall apart. Joshua Holt and his wife arrived Saturday evening at Washington Dulles International Airport. Venezuelan officials released the Holts after high-level talks between President Nicolas Maduro and U.S. lawmakers. Holt's wife, Thamara Caleno, exchanged text messages with The Associated Press as she and Holt were traveling. She says that a fellow inmate at their Caracas jail relayed information Friday night that prison officials were discussing their release. At 10 that night, a warden asked to see them, then every two hours afterward they were awakened to have their pictures taken as part of a heightened security protocol. The next morning, they were told to pack their things and prepare to go. ___ 7:15 p.m. A Utah man who had been jailed in Venezuela for nearly two years has returned to the United States. A White House official says Joshua Holt arrived Saturday evening at Washington Dulles International Airport. The official isn't authorized to speak about the matter by name. Venezuelan officials released Holt after high-level talks between President Nicolas Maduro and U.S. lawmakers. Holt and his wife were jailed for nearly two years on weapons charges that U.S. officials consider bogus. The release of Holt and his wife and their departure for Washington came one day after Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee held a surprise meeting in Caracas with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. ___ 3:25 p.m. U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says he played a small role in bringing home a Utah man jailed in Venezuela for nearly two years. Corker on Saturday boarded a jet outside of Caracas with Joshua Holt and his wife destined for Washington. Venezuelan police arrested the couple on weapons charges and held them without trial. U.S. officials all along considered the charged bogus. The Republican senator from Tennessee says much of the credit for Holt's release goes to his staffer Caleb McCarry for his dogged determination. He says fellow Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah worked tirelessly for Holt's family. Corker on Friday met personally with President Nicola Maduro. State TV showed the two men at the presidential palace warmly shaking hands. It follows a meeting that Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois had in April with Maduro to urge Holt's release. ___ 2:45 p.m. A Utah man newly freed from a Venezuelan jail has been seen boarding a private jet that's expected to take him to Washington. Joshua Holt was wearing a bright orange backpack and was surrounded by supporters. Venezuelan officials released Holt on Saturday after high-level talks between President Nicolas Maduro and U.S. lawmakers. Holt and his wife were jailed nearly two years on weapons charges that U.S. officials considered bogus. Photos show Sen. Bob Corker at Holt's side, helping carry a large black duffel bag. Corker negotiated the release with Maduro. ___ 1:40 p.m. Venezuela's chief spokesman says a Utah man and his wife jailed in Caracas for two years have been freed and are on their way to the United States. Communications Minister Jorge Rodrigues said Saturday that the release of Joshua Holt follows months of dialogue between President Nicolas Maduro and representatives of the United States. Holt was arrested on weapons charged during a trip to Venezuela to marry a woman he'd met on a website to practice Spanish. U.S. officials say the charges were trumped up. ___ 10 a.m. The family of a Utah man jailed in a Venezuelan jail for two years calls his release a miracle. A statement that relatives provided Saturday confirms that Joshua Holt and his wife will be freed from detention in the capital of Caracas. The couple was arrested on weapons charges that U.S. officials dismiss as trumped up. President Donald Trump says in a tweet that he expects to greet Holt at the White House later Saturday. Holt's family expresses its gratitude for all who worked for his release. They also ask to be allowed to meet Holt and his wife before making any public statements.