Trump keeps Iran nuclear deal intact but adds sanctions
Washington – President Donald Trump on Friday delivered an ultimatum to America’s European allies to fix the “terrible flaws” in the Iran nuclear deal, or he’ll pull the U.S. out in a few months’ time.
Trump made the threat as he extended waivers of key economic sanctions on Iran, keeping the accord alive at least for now. 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 difficult to meet.
“This is a last chance,” Trump warned in a statement that outlined several tough new rules on Iran. “In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal.”
Trump’s declaration puts great pressure on Britain, France and Germany, the European signatories to nuclear pact with Iran. Trump wants them to help the U.S. devise a new agreement designed to prevent Iran from escalating nuclear activity again next decade, as permitted under the 2015 arrangement reached by President Barack Obama.
Iran has said it’s not interested in any renegotiation and would almost certainly view a side agreement between the U.S. and Europe as a violation of the deal. The Europeans, meanwhile, have said they are willing to discuss the matter with the U.S. but have shown little enthusiasm with Trump’s hard line.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif accused Trump of “maliciously violating” the nuclear deal.
“Trump’s policy (and) today’s announcement amount to desperate attempts to undermine a solid multilateral agreement,” Zarif tweeted shortly after Trump’s statement. “Rather than repeating tired rhetoric, US must bring itself into full compliance — just like Iran.”
The sanctions Trump had to waive Friday dealt with Iran’s central bank. These penalties largely cut Iran out of the international financial system, until they were suspended by Obama under the nuclear deal. Trump is also waiving other U.S. penalties covered by the agreement, including on Iran’s oil and gas sectors, which were up for renewal next week.
Trump will next have to deal with these decisions in mid-May. He paired Friday’s concession with other, targeted sanctions on Iran.
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