U.S. ex­tends Iran sanc­tions re­lief while be­moan­ing be­hav­iour

The Prince George Citizen - - SPORTS - Matthew LEE

WASH­ING­TON – The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on Thurs­day ex­tended sanc­tions re­lief to Iran, avoid­ing im­mi­nent ac­tion that could im­plode the land­mark 2015 nu­clear deal, even as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son ac­cused Tehran of not re­spect­ing the en­tire agree­ment.

The ex­ten­sions of the waivers on nu­clear sanc­tions, first is­sued by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, were ac­com­pa­nied by new penal­ties im­posed against 11 Ira­nian peo­ple and com­pa­nies ac­cused of sup­port­ing Iran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram or in­volve­ment in cy­ber­at­tacks against the U.S. fi­nan­cial sys­tem.

The com­bi­na­tion of steps – known in­ter­nally as waive and slap – came as the ad­min­is­tra­tion nears com­ple­tion of a month­s­long re­view of its Iran pol­icy that is ex­pected next month, per­haps as early as Oc­to­ber 15 when Trump must in­form Congress if Iran is com­ply­ing with the terms of the nu­clear agree­ment and whether the deal re­mains in U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­ests.

In com­ments to re­porters aboard Air Force One, Trump re­peated his cam­paign pro­nounce­ment that the deal is bad and again said he be­lieves Iran is vi­o­lat­ing its terms and spirit.

“The Iran deal is one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Not a fair deal to this coun­try. It’s a deal that should have never ever been made. You’ll see what we’re do­ing... it’s go­ing to be in Oc­to­ber.”

“We are not go­ing to stand for what they are do­ing to this coun­try,” Trump said. “They have vi­o­lated so many el­e­ments but they have also vi­o­lated the spirit of that deal.”

Speak­ing in London at a joint news con­fer­ence with Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son., Tiller­son told re­porters the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ap­proach to Iran could not be de­ter­mined on the ba­sis of the nu­clear ac­cord alone.

“We must take into ac­count the to­tal­ity of Ira­nian threats, not just its nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” he said, cit­ing obli­ga­tions to up­hold re­gional and in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity.

“Iran is clearly in de­fi­ance of these obli­ga­tions,” Tiller­son said, point­ing to its sup­port of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad’s gov­ern­ment, cy­ber ac­tiv­ity and test­ing of bal­lis­tic mis­siles.

The White House did not is­sue a state­ment an­nounc­ing the ex­ten­sion of the sanc­tions waivers and left it to the State Department to make the move pub­lic.

At the State Department, spokes­woman Heather Nauert re­cited a litany of what she called provoca­tive and bel­liger­ent Ira­nian ac­tion that she said demon­strated Iran’s ma­lign be­hav­iour be­fore an­nounc- ing the waive part of the strat­egy. She said the waivers give the ad­min­is­tra­tion ad­di­tional time to de­lib­er­ate its broader pol­icy.

Mean­while, the Trea­sury de­liv­ered the slap part of the strat­egy, im­pos­ing sanc­tions on Ira­nian com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als af­fil­i­ated with the Ira­nian Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards Corps, Ira­nian air­lines and those be­lieved to have been in­volved in cy­ber­at­tacks on U.S. banks.

“Trea­sury will con­tinue to take strong ac­tions to counter Iran’s provo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing sup­port for the IRGC-Qods Force and ter­ror­ist ex­trem­ists, the on­go­ing cam­paign of vi­o­lence in Syria, and cy­ber-at­tacks meant to desta­bi­lize the U.S. fi­nan­cial sys­tem,” Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin said in a state­ment.

The nu­clear sanc­tions waivers are Amer­ica’s part of the deal’s cen­tral bar­gain. In ex­change for Tehran rolling back its atomic pro­gram, the U.S. and other world pow­ers agreed to sus­pend widerang­ing oil, trade and fi­nan­cial penal­ties that had choked the Ira­nian economy.

As of­fi­cials have made clear for months, the White House is seek­ing ways to find that Tehran is not com­ply­ing with the agree­ment.

Iran re­jects that it has bro­ken the agree­ment. And it can point to a UN re­port this week show­ing that Iran was meet­ing the con­di­tions on its nu­clear pro­gram set out in the ac­cord. The July 2015 deal was reached by Iran, the U.S., Bri­tain, France, China, Ger­many and Rus­sia.

Un­der U.S. law, the pres­i­dent must cer­tify to Congress every 90 days whether Iran is ad­her­ing to the agree­ment. If the pres­i­dent doesn’t cer­tify com­pli­ance, Congress has 60 days to de­cide whether to re-im­pose sanc­tions lifted un­der the agree­ment.

The next cer­ti­fi­ca­tion dead­line is Oct. 15 and sev­eral of­fi­cials and peo­ple close to the mat­ter have de­scribed Trump as de­ter­mined to de­cer­tify Ira­nian com­pli­ance with the nu­clear deal at that point – a find­ing that would jeop­ar­dize the en­tire agree­ment.

On Thurs­day and in pre­vi­ous com­ments, Trump has said he is in­clined not to cer­tify Ira­nian com­pli­ance af­ter hav­ing twice found it com­pli­ant at ear­lier dead­lines.

Iran deal op­po­nents inside and out­side the ad­min­is­tra­tion ar­gue that Tehran’s full com­pli­ance is un­proven, par­tic­u­larly on al­low­ing nu­clear in­spec­tions at mil­i­tary sites.

They ar­gue that at the very least Iran is vi­o­lat­ing the spirit of the agree­ment with its bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests. Those, how­ever, aren’t specif­i­cally cov­ered in the nu­clear agree­ment.

Thurs­day’s de­ci­sion sets the stage for talks on the agree­ment’s fu­ture with Euro­pean al­lies and oth­ers dur­ing next week’s UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly.

AP PHOTO

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­swers a ques­tion from the me­dia as he ar­rives at the White House on Thurs­day.

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