President Donald Trump said Monday Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon, one day after Tehran announced it would no longer abide by the terms of a comprehensive nuclear deal in retaliation for the U.S.'s killing of its chief general.
"IRAN WILL NEVER HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON!" Trump exclaimed on Twitter amid heightened tensions sparked by the U.S.'s killing of Qasem Soleimani last week.
Soleimani's death has put Iran and the U.S. on the brink of war, and Iran announced over the weekend that it has ended its commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the agreement it struck with world powers.
The agreement saw Iran receive billions of dollars in the form of relief from international sanctions in exchange for accepting unprecedented curbs on and inspections of its nuclear program.
But Trump withdrew Washington from the agreement in 2018, and went on to reimpose biting sanctions the U.S. agreed to lift under the pact, hobbling the Iranian economy in the process.
Following Trump's decision relations between Iran and the U.S. have often been at a fever pitch, and Iran has long complained that it was not receiving the economic benefits it was due under the pact.
Iran, in turn, took steps back from its requirements under the deal before its weekend announcement.
The Iranian government noted, however, that it will continue to work with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the international body tasked with monitoring the agreement's implementation.
Tehran said if U.S. sanctions are lifted and benefits are provided, it is ready to return to the agreement.
The decision comes after Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds force, was killed early Friday in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad.
Soleimani's death has led to a dramatic escalation in tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who bestowed the country's highest honor on Soleimani last year, has vowed "severe retaliation" in response to his killing as Trump has vowed to respond in kind.
Soleimani was the long-time commander of the Quds Force, the unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps tasked with carrying out its external operations.
The simmering tensions with Iran come as Trump faces a pending Senate trial on articles of impeachment passed last month by the House of Representatives, and significant pushback from Democrats on the Hill over Soleimani's killing.
It is unclear when Trump's trial will begin as the Democratic-controlled House has yet to transmit the charges to the Senate in a bid to ramp up pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow for witnesses to be called during the proceedings.
But Trump called for lawmakers to "get this done," calling it a Democratic "con game."
"Congress & the President should not be wasting their time and energy on a continuation of the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax when we have so many important matters pending," he said on Twitter.
In addition to impeachment, Trump will also face another test from Congress in the form of a war powers resolution that will seek to limit the president's ability to limit the president's military actions regarding Iran. A vote is in the House expected this week.
Two top Democratic senators further called on the president to declassify his reasoning for carrying out the operation that killed Soleimani.
In a letter to Trump, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez wrote, "It is critical that national security matters of such import be shared with the American people in a timely manner."
"An entirely classified notification is simply not appropriate in a democratic society, and there appears to be no legitimate justification for classifying this notification," they charged.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.