US issues ultimatum to ‘fix’ Iran N-deal

- Reuters, Washington

Jan 14, 2018-

US President Donald Trump on Friday gave the Iran nuclear deal a final reprieve but warned European allies and Congress they had to work with him to “fix the terrible flaws” of the pact or face US withdrawal.

Trump said he would waive nuclear sanctions against Iran but only as a “last chance” and would not do so again. The ultimatum puts pressure on Europeans - key backers and parties to the 2015 international agreement – to satisfy Trump, who has called the deal “the worst ever.”

A senior administration official said Trump wants the deal strengthened with a follow-on agreement in 120 days or the United States will unilaterally withdraw from the international pact.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Twitter that the deal was not renegotiable and that Trump’s stance “amounts to desperate attempts to undermine a solid multilateral agreement.”

Trump, who has criticized the deal sharply both as a presidential candidate and since taking office, had privately chafed at having to once again waive sanctions on a country he sees as a rising threat in the Middle East.

“This is a last chance,” Trump said in a statement. “In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately.”

While Trump approved the sanctions waiver, the Treasury Department announced new, targeted sanctions against 14 Iranian entities and people.

Trump had lengthy discussions on Thursday with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser HR McMaster and others about the deal, which was reached during the presidency of Democrat Barack Obama. Trump now will work with European partners on a follow-on agreement that enshrines certain triggers that the Iranian regime cannot exceed related to ballistic missiles, said a senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the decision.

One official said Trump would be open to remaining in a modified deal if it was made permanent. “I hereby call on key European countries to join with the United States in fixing significant flaws in the deal, countering Iranian aggression, and supporting the Iranian people,” Trump said in the statement. 

“If other nations fail to act during this time, I will terminate our deal with Iran.”

The president laid out several conditions for a fix to the deal that would keep the United States in. Iran must allow “immediate inspections at all sites requested by international inspectors,” he said, and that provisions preventing Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon must not expire. Trump said US law must tie long-range missile and nuclear weapons programs together, making any missile testing by Iran subject to “severe sanctions.”

Trump wants the US Congress to modify a law that reviews US participation in the nuclear deal to include “trigger points” that if violated would lead to the United States reimposing its sanctions, the official said.

This would not entail negotiations with Iran, the official said, but rather would be the result of talks between the United States and its European allies. Work already has begun on this front, the official said.

 

Trump would make big mistake by leaving Iran deal: Moscow

MOSCOW: Russia on Saturday said Washington would be making a grave mistake by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, adding that Moscow would work hard to keep the landmark agreement alive.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov criticised remarks by US President Donald Trump, who on Friday said the US will not reimpose nuclear sanctions on Iran for the moment, but would withdraw later this year unless the terms of the deal are changed. “We are gradually coming to the conclusion that an internal decision by the US to leave the (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) has already been made or is close to being made,” Ryabkov said in an interview with Interfax news agency.

“This could be one of Washington’s big foreign policy mistakes, a big miscalculation in American policy,” he said. (AFP)

Published: 14-01-2018 10:30

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