U.S. President Donald Trump said Iran is not living up to the "spirit" of its nuclear deal with world powers, an assessment that followed media reports that he intends to decertify the landmark 2015 accord.
Trump made the statement during an October 5 meeting with military leaders at the White House, 10 days before his deadline to decide whether to certify that Iran is in compliance with the deal.
"We must not allow Iran…to obtain nuclear weapons," he said.
He added that "the Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed, and chaos across the Middle East. That is why we must put an end to Iran's continued aggression and nuclear ambitions. They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement."
His comments followed several media reports earlier in the day that he intends to announce plans to decertify the deal, a move that would give the Republican-controlled Congress 60 days to decide whether to reinstate sanctions on Tehran that were suspended under the agreement.
Trump has repeatedly denounced the deal signed under his predecessor, Barack Obama. He told the UN General Assembly last month that it is "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into."
The Washington Post first reported his intention to decertify the deal, and several other news outlets cited unidentified U.S. officials as confirming the Washington Post report.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters in Washington on October 5 that Trump has made "a decision" on the matter, adding that his primary focus "has been a comprehensive strategy on how to deal with Iran."
"The president is going to make an announcement about the decision that he's made on a comprehensive strategy that his team supports, and we'll do that in the coming days," Sanders said.
Asked on October 5 about his planned decision, Trump said: "You'll be hearing about Iran very shortly."
As part of the landmark 2015 deal, Tehran agreed to curtail its nuclear activities in exchange for relief from international sanctions. Other signatories to the accord are Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany.
Supporters of the deal say an arms race could erupt in the Middle East should it collapse, while critics say it gave too many concessions to Tehran without requiring it to halt its nuclear program completely.
Many Republicans in Congress are critical of the accord, while the world powers that are party to the deal strongly favor it.
A senior Democratic aide in the U.S. Senate, meanwhile, said "Democrats believe the president should make the certification, full stop."
"The maximum point of leverage to address Iran's nefarious activities is now, before his expected terrible decision," the aide said on condition of anonymity.
Media reports say Trump will make the announcement in a speech slated for October 12, but that the timing could change.
With reporting by The Washington Post, Reuters, AFP, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, and dpa