Vladimir Putin Says Donald Trump Pulling Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal Could Destabilize the Middle East

Did not see that coming.

Speaking to reporters in Qingdao, China, Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Putin said President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the agreement could “destabilize the situation” in the Middle East, but added that Russia would continue to honor the deal.

Trump announced he would exit the landmark agreement last month. He had long campaigned against the nuclear deal and made exiting the agreement one of the signature pledges of his candidacy during the 2016 presidential election. At the time, he noted that any nation that helps Iran obtain nuclear weapons would also be “strongly sanctioned.”

The president had earlier criticized the deal as one of the Obama administration’s “worst” decisions, and in his statements, he expressed his belief that the deal served to benefit the Iranian regime while sponsoring terrorism.

“At the point when the US 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 actually cash — a great embarrassment to me as a citizen,” Trump said.

It didn’t take long for Tehran to respond. The Associated Press reported soon after that the Iranian president said that should negotiations fail, “the Islamic Republic will enrich uranium ‘more than before … in next weeks.”

In announcing that Russia would continue to honor the agreement, Putin joins a host of political figures who’ve rebuked Trump’s decision. Some of these figures had also urged Trump not to withdraw from the deal in the weeks before he made his official announcement.

French President Emmanuel Macron met with President Trump in April and urged Congress to not only stay in the deal, but seek to improve it. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in separate meetings with the president, also urged him to keep the deal, agreeing with the assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the deal limits Iran’s nuclear capabilities for now and that Iran has always complied.

Putin’s words marked a significant break from President Trump, particularly after Trump called for Russia to be readmitted into the G-7 summit, a meeting of seven countries with the largest advanced economies in the world.

“Russia should be in this meeting,” Trump told reporters before leaving the White House for Canada, where the summit is being held. “Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?”

“Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run,” Trump added. “They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”

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