Trump gives Iran nuclear deal 'a last chance'

Hassan Rouhani

Iran says the 2015 nuclear deal is not up for renegotiation after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw from the agreement if its "terrible flaws" were not fixed.

The Trump administration's agreement to waive sanctions again came with an enormous caveat and "ask" list, said CNN senior worldwide correspondent Nick Paton Walsh.

Trump warned that he would scrap the agreement limiting Iran's nuclear program - an accord he has long despised - unless European countries "join with the United States in fixing significant flaws in the deal".

As Trump agreed to the sanctions relief, U.S. Department of Treasury said on Friday that it has imposed new sanctions on 14 individuals and entities over Iran's alleged human rights abuses and ballistic missile program, including head of Iran's judiciary and the cyber unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. "If at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately", the president said on Friday. If Iran does not comply with any of these provisions, American nuclear sanctions would automatically resume.

U.S. allies including the United Kingdom and France have repeatedly defended the agreement and said Iran continues to comply with the accord and they, too, intend to do so.

This would not entail negotiations with Iran, the official said, but rather would be the result of talks between the United States and its European allies.

Trump's other option for scuttling the deal would involve withholding the sanctions waiver he periodically grants under the JCPOA legislation, re-imposing sanctions on Iran's nuclear program and nearly certainly prompting Tehran to declare the nuclear deal null and void.

Senior U.S. administration officials told reporters Trump would work with Europeans on a follow-on deal to enshrine triggers that the Iranian government could not exceed related to ballistic missiles.

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Sorting out the myriad sanctions requires "a team of lawyers", said Alex Vatanka of the Middle East Institute in Washington. "Now he wants to send the ball in the Europeans' court, so that if he fails to do anything against Iran, he will be able to say it is Europe's shortcoming".

The president wants Congress to modify a law that reviews USA participation in the nuclear deal to include "trigger points" that, if violated, would lead to the United States reimposing its sanctions, the official said.

As part of the deal, the US released Iranian assets frozen because of Iran's nuclear deal.

Trump wants them to help the United States devise a new agreement created to prevent Iran from escalating nuclear activity again next decade, as permitted under the 2015 arrangement reached by former President Barack Obama.

On Saturday, the spokesman for the Iranian parliament's presiding board, Behrouz Nemati, said that the JCPOA is an worldwide agreement that neither the United States nor any other powers can violate unilaterally, according to Tasnim news agency.

The remarks by Behrouz Nemati came one day after Donald Trump declared his new Iran strategy.

Trump did, however, warn that Friday's waiver would be the last time he was prepared to prevent Congress from putting sanctions in place, unless a significantly strengthened agreement was reached with Iran and the United States' European allies within 120 days. The White House said the move was a response to Tehran's crackdown on recent anti-government demonstrations, which left 18 protesters dead and thousands under arrest. One official said the actions "will send a very strong message that the United States is not going to tolerate their continued abuses".

"Today, we unfortunately see an individual having assumed power in the United States who has so little understanding that he describes entire nations with obscene and unacceptable and even unbelievable words", Zarif said, referring to but not naming Trump, who on Thursday described El Salvador, Haiti, and certain African nations as "shithole" countries.

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