White House says Trump could still renegotiate Iran nuclear deal

US President Donald Trump also took to Twitter on Jan 6, 2020, to reiterate the White House stance that "Iran will never have a nuclear weapon" but gave no other details. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump is confident he could still renegotiate a nuclear deal with Teheran, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Monday (Jan 6), a day after Iran announced it would retreat further from the 2015 nuclear pact.

Asked if Trump believes he can still get Iran to negotiate a new nuclear agreement, Conway told reporters at the White House: "He said he's open. If Iran wants to start behaving like a normal country... sure, absolutely."

Trump later took to Twitter to reiterate the White House stance that "Iran will never have a nuclear weapon" but gave no other details.

Conway also defended Trump's decision last week to kill one of Iran's top military commanders, saying the president "did what a responsible, strong - not weak - commander-in-chief does when faced with the opportunity to take out one of the - if not the - world's most wanted terrorists."

Iran has said it will not renegotiate the nuclear deal, which Trump abandoned in 2018, triggering a sharp decline in relations between Teheran and Washington.

Teheran has already breached many of the deal's restrictions on its nuclear activities and on Sunday said it would abandon limitations on enriching uranium.

But it said it would still continue to cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog and could quickly reverse its steps if US sanctions are removed.

Trump's administration has pursued a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran that it said could help pressure Teheran to come to the negotiating table. Trump has previously said he is open to talks with Teheran.

Meanwhile, US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday US lawmakers should wait for the facts before criticising Trump's decision to kill top Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad last week.

"We can and we should learn more about the intelligence and thinking that led to this operation and the plan to defend American personnel and interests in the wake of it," McConnell said at the US Capitol after lawmakers returned from winter break.

"Unfortunately, in this toxic political environment, some of our colleagues rushed to blame our own government before even knowing the facts. Rushed to split hairs about intelligence before being briefed on it."

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