President Donald Trump meets with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. AP

WASHINGTON: Iran is “not living up to the spirit” of the nuclear deal struck with world powers in 2015, US President Donald Trump said Thursday, warning America would set out its position on that soon.

Trump’s administration has been publicly tightening the noose on Iran over the deal, which was negotiated by the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany to roll back Tehran’s nuclear program in return for the easing of sanctions.

“It was a terrible agreement,” said Trump, who has regularly blamed his predecessor Barack Obama for securing it. “That was a bad one, as bad as I’ve ever seen negotiated.”

“Iran has not lived up to the spirit of the agreement, and they have to do that,” Trump said in a joint news conference in the White House with Italy’s visiting Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

“We’re analysing it very, very carefully and will have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future.”

Trump on Tuesday ordered a review of the deal led by his National Security Council, which will decide whether suspending sanctions “is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

Although the State Department admits Iran has so far stuck to its side of the bargain, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday called the pact a failure and warned Iran risked becoming another North Korea: a hostile, nuclear-armed state.

He said Iran is “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism” and highlighted its military support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Huthi rebels in Yemen and militias in Iraq and in Lebanon.

“Iran’s provocative actions threaten the United States, the region, and the world,” Tillerson said.

On Thursday, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, called Iran the “chief culprit” in Middle East conflicts and urged the UN Security Council to make handling the country a “priority.”

Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Gholamali Khoshroo, hit back by accusing the United States of waging a “misleading propaganda campaign” against his country.

Tehran has given no indication of wanting to ditch the deal.

But Iranians in their day-to-day lives have not seen as much advantage from the eased sanctions as they had hoped.

Disappointment over their continued economic stagnation has created an opening for conservative candidates in May 19 elections who are opposed to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who helped oversee the nuclear deal’s conclusion.--AFP

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