Trump keeps nu­clear deal, US says Iran is com­ply­ing

Ira­nian FM in New York to at­tend a UN meet, says pos­si­bil­i­ties of en­gage­ment open

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

Wash­ing­ton, US - Don­ald Trump has backed away from a cam­paign prom­ise to scrap a ma­jor nu­clear se­cu­rity deal with Iran, with of­fi­cials an­nounc­ing the agree­ment and re­lated sanc­tions re­lief will stay in place for now.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion faced a new con­gres­sional dead­line on Mon­day to say whether Iran has curbed its nu­clear weapons pro­gramme in line with the ac­cord. Un­der the terms of the two year old agree­ment, Tehran scaled back pro­duc­tion of nuke-mak­ing ma­te­rial in re­turn for mas­sive sanc­tions re­lief.

“The con­di­tions,” ac­cord­ing to one of­fi­cial who the White House would not name pub­licly, “have been met, based on in­for­ma­tion avail­able to the US.”

The 2015 agree­ment rests on a se­ries of tech­ni­cal bench­marks, and was seen in Wash­ing­ton as a way of avoid­ing mil­i­tary ac­tion to pre­vent Iran from get­ting a nuke. But it has not re­lieved ten­sions be­tween Tehran and Wash­ing­ton, which con­tinue to clash par­tic­u­larly over con­flicts in the Mid­dle East like Syria and Ye­men, where Iran-backed mili­tias hold clout.

On a trip to Sunni-ruled Saudi Ara­bia in May, Trump called on all na­tions to ‘iso­late’ Shi­ite Iran.

Dur­ing his elec­tion cam­paign Trump de­nounced the deal - reached un­der former pres­i­dent Barack Obama - and promised to rene­go­ti­ate it and get tough on Iran. Trump has now twice af­firmed Iran’s com­pli­ance since tak­ing of­fice, ef­fec­tively keep­ing the deal in place.

But the White House took pains to stress it was not go­ing soft on Iran, point­ing to new non­nu­clear sanc­tions and stricter im­ple­men­ta­tion of the deal.

An of­fi­cial added: “We do ex­pect that we will be im­ple­ment­ing new sanc­tions that per­tain to Iran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gramme and fast boat pro­gramme. Iran re­mains one of the most dan­ger­ous threats to US in­ter­ests and re­gional sta­bil­ity.”

‘Con­tra­dic­tory sig­nal’

Iran’s For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif, in New York on Mon­day to at­tend a UN fo­rum on devel­op­ment, said he has yet to dis­cuss the nu­clear deal with US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son.

“There are no com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween my­self and Sec­re­tary Tiller­son,” Zarif said at an event at the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions.

“It doesn’t mean there can’t be. The pos­si­bil­i­ties for en­gage­ment... have al­ways been open.”

“We re­ceive con­tra­dic­tory sig­nals,” Zarif said when asked about the pos­si­ble out­come of the re­view. “It’s very clear that Iran is se­ri­ous about the nu­clear deal and we be­lieve the nu­clear deal can lay the foun­da­tion.”

The ab­sence of com­mu­ni­ca­tion is in sharp con­trast with Zarif’s deal­ings with former sec­re­tary of state John Kerry, with whom he ne­go­ti­ated the agree­ment.

Zarif said that the United Na­tions nu­clear watch­dog has cer­ti­fied that Tehran was in com­pli­ance with the agree­ment.

(AFP)

Ac­tivist take part in a rally to com­mem­o­rate the nu­clear deal with Iran in front of the White House, in Wash­ing­ton DC on Fri­day

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