NEW YORK CITY – President Trump said Wednesday he has made a decision about whether to keep or kill the Iran nuclear agreement he has called an "embarrassment to the United States" – but won't yet say what it is.
"I’ll let you know what the decision is," Trump told reporters before speaking with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
In a major address to the world body on Tuesday, Trump called the Obama-era deal designed to curtail Iran's nuclear program "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions” in history.
Trump faces an Oct. 15 deadline to tell Congress whether he intends to re-certify the 2015 agreement signed by his predecessor Barack Obama. The United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Germany and the European Union also signed the agreement, in which Iran agreed to give up the means to make nuclear weapons. As part of the agreement, the U.S. and its allies agreed to reduce long-term economic sanctions on Tehran.
Trump, in his U.N. address, accused Tehran of violating the spirit of the agreement intended to keep Iran's nuclear program peaceful. "We cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program," he said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in his remarks to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, said Trump is the one threatening to violate the agreement, and that the former New York businessman is making unfounded accusations.
"It will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by 'rogue' newcomers to the world of politics: the world will have lost a great opportunity," Rouhani said.
The other signatories have said Iran is complying with the agreement, and that voiding it would only encourage Iran's nuclear weapons program, and could possibly trigger an arms race throughout the Middle East.
Killing the deal would be a "grave mistake," French President Emmanuel Macron said during his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.
The fate of the Iran nuclear agreement is the subject of intense debate within the Trump administration itself, officials said, and some members want to maintain it.
Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, suggested that Iran is in compliance with the agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
Speaking at a security forum sponsored by the Washington-based Hudson Institute, Hyten said, "Iran is operating under the agreements that we signed up for under the JCPOA."
If Trump chooses not to re-certify the deal, that alone may not scrap the agreement. Congress would still have 60 days to decide whether or not to reimpose sanctions.
While Iran and the nuclear threat from North Korea have been Trump's major focuses at the United Nations, he also made time to discuss Middle East policy with Abbas and leaders from Jordan and Egypt.
Trump said Wednesday he wanted to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which he repeatedly called the "toughest deal of all."
"Complex subject – always been considered the toughest deal of all – peace between Israel and the Palestinians," Trump said. Still, he added, "I think we have a very, very good chance."