US keeps Iran nukes deal despite sanctions
WASHINGTON: The US agreed yesterday to continue to exempt Iran from nuclear-related sanctions but slapped new measures on targets accused of cyber attacks or destabilising the region.
The decision to continue to waive the sanctions was expected, but the new sanctions and some tough words from Donald Trump will be seen as a victory for opponents of the Iran nuclear deal.
The President is due to decide before October 15 whether Iran has breached the 2015 nuclear agreement, and critics fear he may abandon an accord they think prevents Tehran from building a nuclear bomb.
“You’ll see what I’m going to be doing very shortly in October,” Mr Trump said on the way to Hurricane Irma-ravaged Florida on Air Force One. “The Iran deal is one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen. Certainly at a minimum the spirit of the deal is atrociously kept. The Iran deal is not a fair deal to this country. It’s a deal that should not have ever been made.”
Policy hawks welcomed Treasury’s announcement of new sanctions on non-nuclear issues, and officials were at pains to show they had waived nuclear sanctions only grudgingly. “The administration did approve waivers in order to maintain some flexibility,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.
A senior administration official called the waiver “a holding action”. “This is the action that the US is taking in the interim,” he said, “while the President and his cabinet come to a final decision in consultation among themselves and in consultation with allies.”
The deal, approved by Barack Obama, was enshrined in UN Security Council resolution 2231. Under the deal, Iran surrendered much of its enriched uranium, dis- mantled a reactor and submitted nuclear sites to UN inspection, while Washington and Europe lifted some sanctions.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has lived up to the terms of the deal, but Washington and its allies have been angered by Tehran’s other actions.
Tehran continues to develop and test ballistic missile technology banned under previous UN resolutions, and its Revolutionary Guard supports militias in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking in London, said Mr Trump would “take into account the totality of Iranian threats, not just Iran’s nuclear capabilities”.
He argued that under the nuclear deal, signatories were expected to “positively contribute” to regional and international peace and security. “In our view, Iran is clearly in default of these expectations,’’ Mr Tillerson said, noting Iran’s support for the Assad regime in Syria and its ballistic missile program.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif insisted that Tehran would not be bullied into renegotiating the deal, tweeting: “A ‘better’ deal is pure fantasy. About time for US to stop spinning and begin complying, just like Iran.’’