Donald Trump pulled the US out of the landmark nuclear deal with Tehran on Tuesday, moving to re-impose sanctions on Iran and defying pleas from close allies who had called for the agreement to be preserved.  The decision marks a bitter defeat for America’s European allies, who have spent months beseeching Mr Trump to stay in a deal that he has denounced as “insane”. Critics warned it would further endanger stability in the Middle East and have repercussions for big companies doing business with Iran following the 2015 accord.  In an announcement at the White House, Mr Trump said the “decaying and rotten structure” of the deal could not prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.

“The US will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal,” he declared. “If I allowed this deal to stand, there soon would be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.” He said the US would reimpose nuclear sanctions and “the highest level of economic sanctions” on Iran. The US Treasury department said all nuclear-related sanctions would be snapped back into place by the end of a six-month “wind-down” period. The sanctions include prohibitions on Iranians accessing US dollars, and the Trump administration will resume efforts to prevent Iranian oil from circulating on the international market. In a pointed rebuke to Tehran, which Mr Trump accused of lying over its nuclear development, the president said Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, was en route to Pyongyang to set up a summit with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, to seek the dismantling of its nuclear programme.

Iran ’s president Hassan Rouhani said the country would decide whether to stay in the deal or resume uranium enrichment at industrial level after talking with the other signatories over the next few weeks. But for now, he said, Iran considered that the deal remained intact. “Henceforth, the nuclear deal will be between Iran and five other countries,” said Mr Rouhani in a speech broadcast live on state television on Tuesday. He added that he had ordered the country’s Atomic Energy Organisation to be ready for “unrestricted enrichment at industrial level”.