Reluctant Donald Trump grants sanctions relief to Iran one last time

Elias Hubbard
January 14, 2018

On Friday, announcing his decision to waive the application of certain sanctions related to oil sales and Iran's banking system, he said he was only making the move to secure European allies' agreement to fix the deal's "flaws".

Trump, who has sharply criticized the deal reached during Democrat Barack Obama's presidency, had privately chafed at having to once again waive sanctions on a country he sees as a rising threat in the Middle East.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week that he was working with Congress on legislative changes that would "strengthen the way the US enforces the agreement".

But Trump warned Friday in a statement previewed by senior administration officials that that the waiver - which must be issued every 120 days to keep the sanctions from kicking back in - will be the last he issues.

Meanwhile, on his official Twitter account, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Trump's decision undermined the multilateral agreement.

The EU said it would hold internal consultations and was "committed to the continued full and effective implementation" of the deal.

Trump's declaration puts great pressure on Britain, France and Germany, the European signatories to nuclear pact with Iran.

Trump laid out conditions to keep Washington in the deal.

His ultimatum puts pressure on Europeans - key backers and parties to the 2015 global agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program - to satisfy Mr Trump, who wants the pact strengthened with a separate agreement within 120 days. But his explicit warning to Europe that the deal must be fixed by the time the next sanctions waivers are due in the spring creates a high-stakes diplomatic deadline that will be hard to meet.

In his speech on Friday, the U.S. president called on all of the country's allies to counter the Islamic Republic's "other malign activities", cut off funding to Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), designate Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement as a "terrorist organization". He accused Iran of "not living up to the spirit" of the agreement even though the International Atomic Energy Agency says Teheran is complying.

The US President Donald Trump once again had to extend waivers that are mandatory under the deal reached between Iran and world powers, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"So Trump now has issued explicit May deadline to Congress and Europeans: Fix Iran nuke deal or no more sanctions waivers", wrote Mark Dubowitz, head of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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