US President Donald Trump has conceded that the chances of renegotiating the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran – from which he withdrew in May of last year – are dwindling, citing ongoing tensions in the Gulf while describing the Islamic Republic as a “state of terror.” The US president specifically referred to Tehran’s recent downing of an American drone that Washington says was flying over international waters, as well as Iran’s claim that it had arrested 17 individuals with alleged ties to the CIA, which President Trump categorically denied. In addition, the White House has accused Tehran of orchestrating numerous recent attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, and of ordering its proxies to target US assets in Iraq as well as critical infrastructure inside Saudi Arabia. In the latest incident, Iranian military forces seized and impounded the British-flagged Stena Impero and continue to hold its 23-member crew. Tehran says the move was a response to Britain’s recent seizure off the coast of Gibraltar of an Iranian supertanker carrying some 2 million barrels of oil allegedly destined for Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. “Frankly, it’s getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran because they behaved very badly,” President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, adding that “I’ll tell you it could go either way, very easily, and I’m okay either way it goes.” The US leader also said that he was “ready for the absolute worst,” a probable allusion to a possible military conflict with the Iranian regime. He has imposed crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic since nixing the nuclear pact, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcing Monday that Washington was placing a leading Chinese oil importer on its blacklist for using Iranian oil. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that London is in the process of establishing a maritime protection force in the Gulf to ensure that freedom of navigation is upheld in accordance with international law.
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