President Donald Trump said Monday that Iran’s deal with the United States would “kill tens to hundreds of thousands” of U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
Speaking at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting, Trump also suggested that the accord, signed Friday, could allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.
“I think it will kill tens of hundreds of thousand of American forces,” Trump said, before adding that it was unclear whether the deal would allow the Islamic Republic to develop the technology to build such weapons.
Trump made his comments during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the first time the two leaders have met since Trump took office in January.
Trump said the deal was “the worst of a bad class of deals.”
He said he wanted the deal to expire “so that Iran can have a peaceful future.”
The deal, which the United Nations says would allow Iran about $7 billion in frozen assets, would not limit Iran’s ability to enrich uranium.
Instead, it would allow Tehran to import crude oil from Russia and sell it to China, among other partners.
A senior White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Trump and Netanyahu had discussed the deal during the recent summit.
“We are focused on moving forward and getting a resolution to this problem as soon as possible,” the official said.
Trump’s remarks on Monday followed a week in which his administration has been trying to negotiate with Tehran over the nuclear deal.
Trump, who is also weighing a second presidential bid, said on Monday that he wants the United Arab Emirates, which hosts U.N. inspectors, to “take over from the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, and the other countries” that have signed the deal.
The White House said it would not discuss details of the new deal, but that it is “committed to a new diplomatic path that works for both sides.”
Trump also said the United Sates “will continue to stand by Israel and the security of our people.”
He has previously called on the United states to “get out of the Middle East” and instead support Israel.
Last week, Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning travelers from six countries with high levels of Iranian involvement in the nuclear program.
The order also barred the entry of refugees from Syria and Sudan and indefinitely suspended the refugee program for 120 days.
The United States and its allies have accused Iran of providing military and financial support to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Iran’s foreign ministry issued a statement Monday saying Trump’s move was aimed at “destroying the Iran nuclear agreement.”
“It’s a false threat,” the ministry said.
___Associated Press writers Jassim Shorrock in New York, David Nakamura in Washington, D.C., Matthew Daly in Jerusalem, Julie Pace in Washington and Julie Bykowicz in Washington contributed to this report.