THE NA­TION Iran ac­cord alive for now

Ac­cord is alive for now; some new sanc­tions are placed on Tehran

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY CAROL MORELLO AND ANNE GEARAN carol.morello@wash­ anne.gearan@wash­ Erin Cun­ning­ham and Bi­jan Sab­bagh in Is­tan­bul and Karoun Demir­jian in Wash­ing­ton con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Pres­i­dent Trump waived some sanc­tions but said he won’t grant an­other re­prieve un­less the pact is al­tered to per­ma­nently block any path­way to build nu­clear arms.

Pres­i­dent Trump on Fri­day kept alive the Iran nu­clear deal he de­tests by waiv­ing sanc­tions for the third time, but he said he will not grant an­other re­prieve un­less the agree­ment is amended to per­ma­nently block a po­ten­tial path­way for Iran to build nu­clear weapons.

In con­junc­tion with the waivers, the Trea­sury De­part­ment placed sanc­tions on 14 peo­ple and en­ti­ties for al­leged of­fenses un­re­lated to Iran’s nu­clear in­dus­try. The new mea­sures con­cern hu­man rights abuses and cen­sor­ship in Iran, and the arm­ing of groups through­out the re­gion.

Trump’s de­ci­sion avoided plac­ing the United States in vi­o­la­tion of the com­mit­ments it made in the land­mark 2015 deal. But he af­firmed his will­ing­ness to with­draw from it in a few months un­less changes are made.

“De­spite my strong in­cli­na­tion, I have not yet with­drawn the United States from the Iran nu­clear deal,” Trump said in a state­ment. “In­stead, I have out­lined two pos­si­ble paths for­ward: ei­ther fix the deal’s dis­as­trous flaws, or the United States will with­draw.”

Crit­ics of the deal deemed the pres­i­dent’s de­ci­sion “an op­por­tu­nity to do bet­ter,” as Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, called it.

But sup­port­ers ex­pressed skep­ti­cism that the deal will sur­vive in its cur­rent form. Trita Parsi, head of the Na­tional Ira­nian Amer­i­can Coun­cil, called it a “tem­po­rary stay of ex­e­cu­tion.”

“In a nut­shell, he’s say­ing, ‘Kill the deal with me, or we’ll kill it alone,’ ” said Robert Mal­ley, who worked on the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

Trump blamed Iran for a litany of al­leged ma­lign ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing sup­port for ter­ror­ist groups and the “mur­der­ous regime” of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad, and tor­ture, mass ar­rests and op­pres­sion at home.

Trump said his strat­egy for con­fronting Iran through sanc­tions and sup­port for Ira­nian political free­dom “stands in stark con­trast to the pol­icy and ac­tions of the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

“Pres­i­dent Obama failed to act as the Ira­nian peo­ple took to the streets in 2009. He turned a blind eye as Iran built and tested dan­ger­ous mis­siles and ex­ported ter­ror. He cur­ried fa­vor with the Ira­nian regime in or­der to push through the dis­as­trously flawed Iran nu­clear deal,” Trump said.

Ira­nian of­fi­cials warned that a U.S. with­drawal from the deal would spell its doom.

For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif said on Twit­ter that “Trump’s pol­icy & to­day’s an­nounce­ment amount to des­per­ate at­tempts to un­der­mine a solid mul­ti­lat­eral agree­ment.”

“JCPOA is not rene­go­tiable,” he said, us­ing an ab­bre­vi­a­tion for the deal’s for­mal name, the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Ac­tion. “Rather than re­peat­ing tired rhetoric, US must bring it­self into full com­pli­ance — just like Iran.”

As a sig­na­tory to the in­ter­na­tional Non-Pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty, Iran has com­mit­ted to not build­ing nu­clear weapons, even af­ter the re­stric­tions on its pro­gram lapse, and it is en­ti­tled to use nu­clear tech­nol­ogy for peace­ful pur­poses.

Trump listed his con­di­tions for leg­is­la­tion that would ad­dress fu­ture U.S. par­tic­i­pa­tion and called on Euro­pean al­lies “to join with the United States in fix­ing sig­nif­i­cant flaws in the deal, coun­ter­ing Ira­nian ag­gres­sion, and sup­port­ing the Ira­nian peo­ple.”

“If other na­tions fail to act dur­ing this time, I will ter­mi­nate our deal with Iran,” warned Trump, who will re­visit the de­ci­sion in 120 days.

Of­fi­cials said the ad­min­is­tra­tion will dis­cuss the changes it is seek­ing with Euro­peans but will not talk di­rectly with Iran.

Sen. Ben­jamin L. Cardin (Md.), the top Demo­crat on the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, called Trump’s state­ment an “ul­ti­ma­tum” and said the pres­i­dent is “mak­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with Europe more dif­fi­cult by the way he’s lay­ing out the con­di­tions.”

All par­ties to the ac­cord would have to agree to any changes. That is highly un­likely. The Euro­peans, who con­sider the deal a great suc­cess con­tribut­ing to their se­cu­rity, have said that Iran’s non-nu­clear be­hav­ior must be ad­dressed sep­a­rately.

The changes Trump has de­manded in­clude timely in­spec­tions of all sites re­quested by the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency, re­flect­ing a con­cern that Iran could be con­duct­ing nu­clear re­search clan­des­tinely at mil­i­tary sites.

Trump also wants to ter­mi­nate the phased ex­pi­ra­tion dates of var­i­ous lim­i­ta­tions placed on Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram. Some­times called “sun­set pro­vi­sions,” many of lapse in 10 to 15 years. Trump wants them to con­tinue in­def­i­nitely so that the United States can rapidly re­sume sanc­tions if Iran is ever found to be cheat­ing.

Rep. Eliot L. En­gel (N.Y.), the top Demo­crat on the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, said the de­mands are unattain­able.

“The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pol­icy an­nounced to­day sets im­pos­si­ble stan­dards that would ul­ti­mately iso­late the United States rather than iso­lat­ing the regime in Tehran,” En­gel said.

“Like it or not, we need to up­hold our end of the bar­gain so that we can hold Iran to its obli­ga­tions and crack down on the regime’s other desta­bi­liz­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Some of the new sanc­tions an­nounced by the Trea­sury De­part­ment are a re­sponse to crack­downs on anti-govern­ment protests and block­ing ac­cess to so­cial me­dia sites.

The en­ti­ties sanc­tioned in­clude Iran’s Supreme Coun­cil of Cy­berspace and its sub­sidiary, the Na­tional Cy­berspace Cen­ter, which po­lice the In­ter­net, re­strict­ing ac­cess to web­sites that chal­lenge the regime.

The sanc­tions with the most political reper­cus­sions are against the ad­min­is­tra­tive head of Iran’s judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Lar­i­jani. A hard-line cleric ap­pointed by Iran’s supreme leader, Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, Lar­i­jani is a highly in­flu­en­tial mem­ber of Iran’s most pow­er­ful political fam­ily. His older brother, Ali Lar­i­jani, is the speaker of Iran’s par­lia­ment.

Iran’s ju­di­cial sys­tem is no­to­ri­ously re­pres­sive, and the coun­try re­mains one of the world’s lead­ing ex­e­cu­tion­ers. Ac­cord­ing to the Euro­pean Union, which placed its own sanc­tions on the judiciary chief in 2012, Sadegh Lar­i­jani has “per­son­ally signed off on nu­mer­ous death penalty sen­tences.”

“Nam­ing and sham­ing Sadegh Lar­i­jani is one small way the U.S. can bring its hu­man rights pol­icy and co­er­cive eco­nomic strat­egy against Iran into greater align­ment,” said Behnam Ben Tale­blu, Iran ex­pert at the Foun­da­tion for De­fense of Democ­ra­cies.

Other sanc­tions tar­get com­pa­nies ac­cused of con­duct­ing pro­hib­ited trans­ac­tions with Ira­nian en­ti­ties. Malaysia-based Green Wave Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions was named for pro­vid­ing U.S. tech­nol­ogy to Ira­nian com­pa­nies.

The Trea­sury De­part­ment also listed sev­eral Chi­nese in­di­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies for break­ing sim­i­lar rules to pro­vide ma­te­ri­als to Iran that could be used in nav­i­ga­tion and weapons sys­tems. Two Ira­nian com­pa­nies that build and main­tain the na­tion’s mil­i­tary he­li­copters also are on the list.

“The des­ig­na­tions to­day po­lit­i­cally go to the top of the regime and send a very strong mes­sage that the United States is not go­ing to tol­er­ate their con­tin­ued abuses, con­tin­ued vi­o­la­tions of the rights of their cit­i­zens,” said an ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial, speak­ing on the con­di­tion of anonymity un­der rules for brief­ing re­porters.

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