WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has decided to back out of the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran, denouncing the accord as being "defective at its core."
He has long criticized the 2015 deal, calling it a "horrible agreement."
"This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made," Trump said of the deal he's been threatening to pull out of since he took office. "It didn't bring calm, it didn't bring peace and it never will."
"If I allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East," he added.
Watch CBN Faith Nation's special coverage of President Trump's announcement below:
The accord was designed to freeze Iran's nuclear program in exchange for an end to economic sanctions on Tehran. However, it did allow Iran to re-start the program in eight years with a pledge not to pursue nuclear weapons.
President Trump says the United States will now "enact highest level of economic sanctions on Iran."
"The agreement was so poorly negotiated that even if Iran fully complies, Iran could be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in a short period of time," said Trump.
The move, which faces intense opposition from European allies, could potentially deepen the president's isolation on the world stage.
Leaders of France, Germany and England have all recently visited the White House to lobby the president to fix the deal but not leave it.
Domestic critics say he's against it because it's part of President Barack Obama's legacy.
"Because he wants to, he wants to show that he can be tougher and that he can negotiate a different deal," said Rob Malley, former US negotiator of the Iran nuclear deal.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry has been working with Europeans against leaving the deal.
The president tweeted that he should butt out, saying, "The United States does not need John Kerry's possibly illegal shadow diplomacy on the very badly negotiated Iran deal. He was the one that created this mess in the first place."
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who just last week accused Iran of lying about its nuclear weapons program, praised Trump's "brave decision."
"The deal would have allowed Iran to enrich enough uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear bombs," he said following Trump's announcement.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) May 8, 2018
Israel Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon also applauded the move.
"This is a historic decision that provides the prospect for a new era of security and stability in the Middle East," The Jerusalem Post quoted the Israeli envoy. "A united front against this regime that promotes terror and sows instability can put an end to the Iranian aggression which threatens our region and the entire international community."
Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the country could face "some problems" ahead of Trump's decision on whether to pull out of its nuclear deal.
Rouhani also stressed Iran wants to keep "working with the world and constructive engagement with the world." That appeared to be a nod to Europe, which has struck a series of business deals with Iran since the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, some national security experts and the Europeans are advocating for a so-called "soft exit" by slowly reimposing sanctions over time.