U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged on Tuesday to try to resolve U.S.-European differences on Iran but Trump gave no clear signal about whether he would carry out a threat to abandon an international nuclear deal with Tehran.
After lengthy talks at the White House, Macron told a joint news conference with Trump that they had discussed "a new deal" that would strengthen the 2015 accord along the lines Trump wants, such as by addressing Iran's expansion in the Middle East and its ballistic missile program.
Before the meeting Trump warned that Iran "will have bigger problems than they have ever had before" if it restarts its nuclear program and called the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers "insane."
He said that the accord -- inked under his predecessor, Barack Obama -- does nothing to tackle Tehran's ballistic missiles program or support for militant groups across the Middle East.
"No matter where you go in the Middle East, Iran seems to be behind everything where there is a problem," Trump said, citing the conflict in Yemen.
Macron, who is seeking to convince the U.S. president not to torpedo the deal, told reporters that he wants to contain Iran in the region.
Trump has given the nuclear agreement's European signatories a May 12 deadline to fix what he calls its "terrible flaws," threatening to effectively withdraw the United States by refusing to extend waivers on U.S. sanctions if they do not do so.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Iran signed with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany, put curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Aside from the United States, the other signatories of the agreement have all voiced support for the deal.
Tehran has always claimed that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. It has also warned that it will revive and step up its nuclear program if the deal collapses.
In a speech broadcast live on state television on April 24, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said the United States would face "severe consequences" if it violates the pact.
"I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will firmly react," Rohani told a crowd of thousands in the northeastern city of Tabriz.
"If anyone betrays the deal, they should know that they would face severe consequences. Iran is prepared for all possible situations," he added.
At a UN nonproliferation conference in Geneva, Russia's delegate said on April 24 that his country and China have submitted a draft statement voicing "unwavering support" for the deal and hope the draft will receive broad backing at the meeting.
Vladimir Yermakov, the Russian Foreign Ministry's director general for nonproliferation and arms control, told the meeting that the Iran agreement was fragile and any attempt to change it would impact on the global nonproliferation regime.
Yermakov's remarks came a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had agreed with his Chinese counterpart that Moscow and Beijing would try to block any U.S. attempt to sabotage the deal.