WASHINGTON – As President Donald Trump prepares to meet with world leaders at the United Nations next week his administration is signaling it will use the gathering to take a hard line against Iran, an issue that could further divide the U.S. from its allies.
With domestic politics at the fore weeks before the November midterm elections, Trump is expected to tell European leaders the Iran nuclear deal he withdrew from in May has failed, even as some of them seek to salvage it without U.S. involvement, according to a senior administration official.
Trump hasn’t closed the door on a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but the official – who requested anonymity to discuss strategy ahead of the talks next week – stressed that the president isn’t actively seeking an audience with Rouhani, either.
Trump will use the gathering in New York to try to convince allies that European companies are fleeing Iran after the United States pulled out of the agreement, a senior administration official said. Several large firms, such as automaker Peugeot and General Electric, have signaled they’re pulling out of Iran because of Trump.
Part of that campaign includes offering alternative sources of oil to countries that had been allowed to purchase it prior to the 2015 nuclear agreement, the official said. Trump officials have previously signaled they wanted to dramatically curb Iranian oil exports.
The position will likely underscore the break between the U.S. and its allies on Iran at the United Nations. French president Emmanuel Macron is expected to meet with Rouhani in New York and urge the Iranian leader to continue to abide by the requirements of the 2015 nuclear agreement that the other signatories, including France, believe should remain in effect.
Trump is also expected to discuss Iran when he chairs a United Nations Security Council meeting on Wednesday. A draft memo outlining the administration’s plan for that session indicates Trump will try to pressure world leaders to crack down on Iran and other countries that violate U.N. decrees against nuclear proliferation.
Trump will call on other members of the Security Council to use sanctions, political pressure, and other tools to crack down on violations, according to the memo.
The president made withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement a centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign, and he continues to discuss the issue at political rallies in the runup to the midterms. The agreement, negotiated by the Obama administration and the leaders of five other nations, required Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for reduced sanctions.
Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen
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