“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”
“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.
Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.
“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.
Experts warned it also risks weakening trust in the United States, raising questions about whether Washington can be taken at its word, and could potentially bolster hard-liners in Tehran who are pushing an agenda of Middle East aggression.
Why did Trump ditch the deal?
Trump has called it the “worst deal ever negotiated” and wanted Britain, France and Germany — co-signatories, along with Russia, China and the European Union — to toughen up its terms. In announcing his decision Tuesday, Trump blasted the deal as “defective at its core,” later adding that “America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail.”
His primary complaint is that the 2015 pact, which was originally conceived as a starting point for better relations between Iran and the West, doesn’t extend beyond 2025.
He also criticized the deal for failing to address other concerns about Iran, such as its ballistic missile program or its support of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, its military aid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its role in the war in Yemen.
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Although Trump has been emphatic in his opposition to the deal, he was less clear about what should replace it or how far the U.S. is willing to go to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions or its regional aggression.
“With this decision, we at least get some clarity on the White House position,” said Sanam Vakil, a professor in the Middle East studies department at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy.
Under the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the United States committed to ease a series of sanctions on Iran and has done so under a string of “waivers” that effectively suspend them.
The waiver that was due for renewal Saturday covered Iran’s central bank and was intended at limiting Iran’s oil exports. Other waivers are due for renewal in July.
In his televised address on Tuesday, Trump said the United States would impose the “highest-level” economic sanctions on the Iranian regime, suggesting that he intends to scrap all of the waivers.
Restoring sanctions amounts to a U.S. breach of the original deal whereas Iran was deemed to be compliant, according to international nuclear inspectors.
The JCPOA has a dispute resolution clause that would allow Iran to raise a complaint against the U.S. for violating its terms; that could buy time for more negotiation, but Trump’s solid opposition to the deal means the dispute mechanism is unlikely to prove fruitful.
How will Iran respond?
While denouncing Trump’s plan, Tehran has not been entirely clear about what it will do once the impromptu public protests subside and American flags stop being burned.
Major companies in the U.S. and Europe could be hurt, too. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that licenses held by Boeing and its European competitor Airbus to sell billions of dollars in commercial jetliners to Iran will be revoked. Certain exemptions are to be negotiated, but Mnuchin refused to discuss what products might qualify.
And while Iran’s leaders may have been more willing to take a softer stance in talks with non-U.S. parties, anger at Trump’s decision may make that politically impossible.
“Should there be some momentum, Iran has indicated that perhaps it might negotiate on some of the wider issues,” Vakil said. “But right now it is obviously in a defensive mood, and domestic, sectional politics very much drives its ability to come back to the negotiating table.”
What does America get?
The perceived benefit of restoring sanctions is that an economically weakened and isolated Iran would have to scale back its regional aggression.
“It also puts pressure on Iran and the international community to address Trump’s personal concerns with the deal,” Vakil said.
Netanyahu on Tuesday accused Iran of deploying “very dangerous weapons” in neighboring Syria. “It is now seeking to plant very dangerous weapons in Syria … for the specific purpose of our destruction,” he told reporters.
Before Trump announced his decision, French President Emmanuel Macron had warned that war could ensue if Trump withdrew from the deal. Without limits on Iran’s nuclear ambitions or inspections of Iranian facilities, Israel could feel compelled to act against its archenemy.
After Trump’s announcement on Tuesday, Macron tweeted that France, Germany, and the U.K. regretted the United States’ decision but would work “collectively on a broader framework, covering nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity and stability in the Middle-East, notably Syria, Yemen and Iraq.”
What will the impact be on America’s reputation?
Perhaps the most troubling outcome of Trump’s move for diplomats is the longer-term erosion of trust in the United States.
Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said Tuesday that only “naïve” individuals would negotiate with the U.S. in the future. His comments echoed a warning from Rouhani that “no one will trust America again” after this episode.
The deal also has opponents in Iran, where many say they haven’t seen the economic benefits that Rouhani promised would flow following the lifting of sanctions.
Spiraling inflation in Iran has fueled nationwide protests in December and January.
The collapse of the deal would also vindicate the position of Rouhani’s hard-line opponents who criticized the very existence of any deal with the U.S.
That could drive Iran back into the hands of hard-liners in elections for its Parliament in 2020 and its presidency in 2021.
“The fallout from Trump’s announcement will leave Rouhani completely marginalized,” Vakil said. “Conservatives will have the dominant narrative, and Rouhani’s legacy of engagement with the international community will be completely discredited.”
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Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that the United States would leave the agreement, under which Iran agreed to strict limits for 15 years on its development of nuclear fuel, to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, in return for an easing of economic sanctions. In withdrawing from the deal, Washington would reimpose sanctions.
Iran has always insisted that its uranium enrichment was intended only to operate nuclear power plants and conduct research, but it also put Iran closer to producing fuel that could be used in atomic bombs.
“Last night, you heard the president of America making petty and mindless statements,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, told a group of teachers in his Tehran office, according to the semiofficial news agency Fars. “There were perhaps more than 10 lies in his statements.”
“He threatened both the system and the nation that ‘I will do this and that,’ ” the ayatollah added. “I say on behalf of the nation of Iran: ‘Mr. Trump, you won’t do a damn thing!’ ”
The other parties to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the European Union — continue to support it. Western intelligence agencies say that Tehran has long had an eye toward — and at times has actively pursued — nuclear weapons.
Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a statement on Wednesday that Iran was “subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime” and that his nuclear watchdog agency “can confirm that the nuclear-related commitments are being implemented by Iran.”
It was Ayatollah Khamenei who ultimately approved the compromises made in the nuclear agreement in 2015, though he also warned at the time against trusting the Americans.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said on Tuesday that his country would continue to abide by the agreement, but Ayatollah Khamenei, the spiritual leader for the past 29 years, wields the ultimate power in the nation. On Wednesday, the ayatollah seemed to suggest that Iran, too, could abandon the deal.
“When the nuclear issue started, some of the elders of the country said, ‘Why the insistence on keeping the nuclear power, let it go,’ ” the ayatollah said. “Of course, this was a wrong thing to say. The country needs nuclear power and according to experts, the country will need 20,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity.”
Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States say they want to halt Iran’s development of missiles, but if Tehran were to agree to those demands, “they will bring up other things,” the ayatollah said.
Reacting to reports that Mr. Trump wants to force “regime change” in Iran, the ayatollah said, “wait for the day when Trump is dead, his corpse is fed on by snakes and insects, but the system of the Islamic Republic will still be standing.”
Iranian officials involved in nuclear negotiations say the focus will now be on how European parties to the deal react to Mr. Trump’s announcement. The sanctions that the American president promised to revive actively discourage and punish European companies and Asian buyers of oil that do business with Iran.
European officials — still committed to the Iran deal but eager to avoid American penalties — appeared to be unsure of how to respond. “It falls to the U.S. administration to spell out their view of the way ahead,” Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, said.
Ali Khorram, a former Iranian ambassador to China and adviser to the country’s nuclear negotiating team, said that Mr. Trump had “violated all international norms that come with such an agreement.”
“If European companies are banned by America to do business with Iran, it is up to Europe to negotiate a solution with the U.S.,” he added.
Iranian military commanders welcomed Mr. Trump’s decision, the semiofficial news agency ISNA reported. “Iranian people never favored the nuclear deal,” the chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, was quoted as saying.
But Iranian hard-liners expressed joy at Mr. Trump’s decision. “Now all Iranians blame the United States for their troubles,” said Hamidreza Taraghi, a hard-line political analyst.
On social media, many Iranian users shared a hashtag, #untr_US_table, to signal their anger at the United States.
Oil markets were jittery on Wednesday, with Brent crude up nearly 3 percent at nearly $77 a barrel, the highest level since late 2014. Traders expressed fear that American sanctions would cut Iranian oil exports, shrinking supplies in an already tight market.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter and an adversary of Iran’s, tried to calm the markets. The Energy Ministry released a statement saying that the kingdom “would work with major producers within and outside OPEC as well as major consumers to mitigate the impact of any potential shortages.”
The actions of Saudi Arabia, which applauded President Trump’s decision, will be closely watched as the Iran confrontation plays out. Saudi Arabia is the only oil producer that can quickly add large volumes to its output.
WASHINGTON — For President Trump and two of the allies he values most — Israel and Saudi Arabia — the problem of the Iranian nuclear accord was not, primarily, about nuclear weapons. It was that the deal legitimized and normalized Iran’s clerical government, reopening it to the world economy with oil revenue that financed its adventures in Syria and Iraq, its missile program and its support of terrorist groups.
But Mr. Trump’s team dismisses that risk: Iran does not have the economic strength to confront the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. And Iran knows that any move to produce a weapon would only provide Israel and the United States with a rationale for taking military action.
It is a brutally realpolitik approach that America’s allies in Europe have warned is a historic mistake, one that could lead to confrontation, and perhaps to war.
And it is a clear example of Middle East brinkmanship that runs counter to what President Barack Obama intended when the nuclear deal was struck in July 2015.
Mr. Obama’s gamble in that deal — the signature foreign policy accord of his eight years in office — was straightforward. He regarded Iran as potentially a more natural ally of the United States than many of its Sunni-dominant neighbors, with a young, educated Western-oriented population that is tired of being ruled by an aging theocracy.
By taking the prospect of nuclear weapons off the table, the Obama administration had argued, the United States and Iran could chip away at three decades of hostility and work on common projects, starting with the defeat of the Islamic State.
It did not turn out that way. While the deal succeeded in getting 97 percent of Iran’s nuclear material out of the country, Iran’s conservatives and its military recoiled at the idea of cooperating on any projects with the West.
Then came Mr. Trump, with his declaration that the deal was a “disaster” and his vow to dismantle it. That is exactly what he has now done, but at a huge cost.
Moments after he delivered his statement — in which he made it sound as if Iran was cheating on the accord, even though his intelligence chiefs have testified otherwise — Mr. Trump received a stinging rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
The three leaders, America’s closest European allies, essentially rejected his logic. They noted that the United Nations Security Council resolution that embraced the Iran deal in 2016 “remains the binding international legal framework for the resolution of the dispute about the Iranian nuclear program.”
And now, suddenly, the world may well be headed back to where it was in 2012: on a road to uncertain confrontation, with “very little evidence of a Plan B,” as Boris Johnson, the British foreign minister, said on a visit to Washington.
The Saudis have an ally in John R. Bolton, the president’s new national security adviser, who had made clear before taking office that he shared their view. Mr. Obama’s deal, Mr. Bolton said on Tuesday afternoon, featured “an utterly inadequate treatment of the military dimension of Iran’s aspirations.”
The Saudi case against Iran has been bolstered in recent months by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has repeatedly referred to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as “the new Hitler.”
“Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realize how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened,” Prince Mohammed said in a recent interview with the CBS News program “60 Minutes.” “I don’t want to see the same events happening in the Middle East.”
In a speech in March at the Brookings Institution, Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, asserted that Iran was “the biggest problem we face in our region.” He blamed Iran for interfering in neighboring countries, backing allied armed groups in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere, and supplying Yemeni rebels with ballistic missiles they fired at his country.
Even if its restrictions on nuclear weapons were tightened and extended, “the agreement by itself does not solve the problem of Iran,” Mr. Jubeir said. “Iran must be held accountable.”
Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations and a State Department official during the Obama administration, argued that the nuclear deal’s opposition from Saudi Arabia, Israel and other regional players was primarily about its effects on American politics and policy.
“If the deal opened an avenue for better relations between the United States and Iran, that would be a disaster for the Saudis,” he said. “They need to ensure a motivation for American pressure against Iran that will last even after this administration.”
Israel is a more complicated case.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pressed Mr. Trump to abandon an arrangement that the Israeli leader has always detested. But Mr. Netanyahu’s own military and intelligence advisers say Israel is far safer with an Iran whose pathway to a bomb is blocked, rather than one that is once again pursuing the ultimate weapon.
“The individuals who shoulder responsibility for Israel’s survival and security have been crystal clear,” Graham Allison, a Harvard professor who has spent his career examining cases of nuclear proliferation.
“This will most likely lead to an outcome that is much worse not only for the U.S., but for Israel,’’ Mr. Allison said, because the current agreement rolled Iran’s nuclear program back a decade “and imposed on Iran the most intrusive inspection regime ever negotiated.”
But Mr. Netanyahu holds Israel’s bullhorn, and he used it last week to persuade Mr. Trump to pull the plug on the Iran deal. By releasing Iranian documents, stolen from Tehran in January, Mr. Netanyahu proved what Western intelligence agencies long knew: A decade ago or even longer, the Iranians were working hard to design a nuclear warhead.
To Mr. Netanyahu, this was proof that Iran could never be trusted and that it had reached the nuclear deal under false pretenses by pretending it never had a weapons program. To Mr. Trump and his allies, the Israeli discovery said less about Iranian nuclear capability than it did about Iranian perfidy.
Given evidence that Iran was preserving its bomb designs as a hedge for the future, the discovery suggested it has not given up its ambitions. As Dennis Ross, a former Middle East negotiator, put it, someone needed to address the Israeli discovery “lest they give the Iranians the ability to pick up quickly where they left off on weaponizing.”
Still, at the core of Mr. Trump’s announcement on Tuesday is a conviction that Mr. Obama made a critical mistake in agreeing to a deal that contains an expiration date. Mr. Trump’s argument is that Iran can never be allowed to accumulate enough material to assemble a bomb.
So when the Europeans said that would require reopening the negotiations, Mr. Trump balked, and decided instead to scrap the entire deal.
It was a classic Trumpian move, akin to the days when he would knock down New York buildings to make way for visions of grander, more glorious edifices. But in this case, it is about upsetting a global power balance and weakening a government that Mr. Trump has argued, since he began campaigning, must go.
David E. Sanger reported from Washington, and David D. Kirkpatrick from London.