De­spite mis­giv­ings, U.S. ex­tends re­lief of sanc­tions to Iran

Houston Chronicle - - WORLD -

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.

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.”

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 mis­sile tests.

The White House left it to the State De­part­ment to make the move pub­lic. State De­part­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert re­cited a litany of what she called provoca­tive and bel­liger­ent Ira­nian ac­tion that she said demon­strated Iran’s ma­lign be­hav­ior be­fore an­nounc­ing the “waive” part of the strat­egy.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion did ap­prove waivers in or­der to main­tain some flex­i­bil­ity as we con­sult on Capi­tol Hill and among al­lies and part­ners to ad­dress the flaws in the JCPOA, and ad­di­tional time to de­velop our pol­icy to ad­dress the full range of Ira­nian ma­lign be­hav­ior,” she said.

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