AFP / Brendan SmialowskiUS President Donald
Trump launched into an angry tirade against
the Iran nuclear accord as he hosted
France's Emmanuel Macron at the White House
US President Donald Trump and French
counterpart Emmanuel Macron called for a
"new" deal with Iran Tuesday, looking beyond
divisions over a landmark nuclear accord
that now hangs in the balance.
Trump pilloried a three-year old
agreement designed to curb Iran's nuclear
program as "insane" and "ridiculous",
despite European pleas for him not to walk
away from the accord.
Instead, Trump eyed a "grand bargain"
that would also limit Iran's ballistic
missile program and support for militant
groups across the Middle East.
"I think we will have a great shot at
doing a much bigger, maybe, deal," said
Trump, stressing that any new accord would
have to be built on "solid foundations."
"They should have made a deal that
covered Yemen, that covered Syria, that
covered other parts of the Middle East,"
"No matter where you go in the Middle
East, you see the fingerprints of Iran
Macron, visiting Washington on a landmark
state visit, admitted after meeting Trump
that he did not know whether the US
president would walk away from the nuclear
deal when a May 12 decision deadline comes
"I can say that we have had very frank
discussions on that, just the two of us,"
Macron told a joint press conference with
Trump at his side.
Putting on a brave face, he said he
wished "for now to work on a new deal with
Iran" of which the nuclear accord could be
Trump -- true to his background in
reality TV -- teased his looming decision.
"This is a deal with decayed foundations.
It's a bad deal, it's a bad structure. It's
falling down," the US leader said. "We're
going to see what happens on the 12th."
Trump's European allies have repeatedly
tried to persuade him not to walk away from
the 2015 deal, which gave Iran massive
sanctions relief and the guarantee of a
civilian nuclear program in return for
limiting enrichment that could produce
weapons grade fuel.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will make
a similar pitch when she visits Washington
Neither Trump nor Macron indicated what
Iran would get in return for concessions on
its ballistic programs or activities in the
Iran, meanwhile, has warned it will ramp
up enrichment activities if Trump walks away
from the accord, prompting Trump to issue a
"They're not going to be restarting
anything. If they restart it, they're going
to have big problems, bigger than they ever
had before. And you can mark it down," he
- Simmering tensions -
For months American and European
officials have been working behind the
scenes to trying to find a compromise over
Trump's demands to change the agreement.
Officials have toyed with the idea of a
separate joint declaration: promising to
tackle non-nuclear issues, while searching
for a tougher successor agreement.
The challenge, they say, is to find a
solution that allows the mercurial US
president to claim a public victory, while
keeping the deal intact.
AFP/ LUDOVIC MARINFrench President Emmanuel
Macron and his wife Brigitte received a
red-carpet welcome from US President Donald
Trump and First Lady Melania
More hawkish American officials accuse
Europeans -- particularly Germany -- of
putting business interests ahead of
security, and of opposing a tougher stance
against Iran to safeguard investments in the
That charge is sharply rejected by
European officials, who are increasingly
frustrated at spending time dealing with
Trump's complaints rather than tackling
The disagreement threatens to plunge
transatlantic relations to their lowest
point since the Iraq War.
Trump comments contrasted markedly with
the red carpet roll out that Macron received
at the White House.
Earlier Tuesday both men waxed lyrical
about shared heroes of yore -- from the
Marquis de Lafayette to Alexis de
Tocqueville -- and listened to strains of
"La Marseillaise" and "The Star-Spangled
Banner" echoing around the South Lawn of the
"The wonderful friendship we have
developed over the last year is a testament
to the enduring friendship that binds our
two nations," Trump glowed.
In the Oval Office, Trump offered
another, slightly awkward sign of their
"We have a very special relationship, in
fact I'll get that little piece of dandruff
off," Trump said, swiping something off
Macron's jacket. "We have to make him
perfect -- he is perfect."
Observers are uncertain that Macron can
translate the privileged relationship into
There are also problems in the economic
sphere, with Macron and Merkel both trying
to secure a permanent exemption for Europe
from US steel and aluminum tariffs.
Trump complained about having to do trade
"deals" with the European Union as a bloc,
rather than individual states like France.