Trump: 'Last chance' to fix Iran deal

Trump: 'Last chance' to fix Iran deal

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has delivered an ultimatum to America’s European allies to fix the “terrible flaws” in the Iran nuclear deal, or he’ll pull the US out in four months.

Trump made the threat on Friday as he extended waivers of key economic sanctions on Iran, keeping the accord alive at least for now. But his explicit warning to Europe that the deal must be fixed by the time the next review takes place in May creates a high-stakes diplomatic deadline that will be difficult to meet.

“This is a last chance,” Trump warned in a statement that outlined several tough new rules on Iran. “In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal.”

Trump’s declaration puts great pressure on Britain, France and Germany, the European signatories to nuclear pact with Iran. Trump wants them to help the US devise a new agreement designed to prevent Iran from escalating nuclear activity again next decade, as permitted under the 2015 arrangement reached by President Barack Obama.

Iran has said it is not interested in any renegotiation and would almost certainly view a side agreement between the US and Europe as a violation of the deal. The Europeans, meanwhile, have said they are willing to discuss the matter with the US but have shown little enthusiasm with Trump’s hard line.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif accused Trump of “maliciously violating” the nuclear deal.

“Trump’s policy (and) today’s announcement amount to desperate attempts to undermine a solid multilateral agreement,” Zarif tweeted shortly after Trump’s statement. “Rather than repeating tired rhetoric, US must bring itself into full compliance — just like Iran.”

The sanctions Trump had to waive Friday dealt with Iran’s central bank. These penalties largely cut Iran out of the international financial system, until they were suspended by Obama under the nuclear deal. Trump is also waiving other US penalties covered by the agreement, including on Iran’s oil and gas sectors, which were up for renewal next week.

Trump will next have to deal with these decisions in mid-May.

He paired Friday’s concession with other, targeted sanctions on Iran for human rights abuses and ballistic missile development. The US Treasury Department’s action hits 14 Iranian officials and companies and businessmen from Iran, China and Malaysia, freezing any assets they have in the US and banning Americans from doing business with them.

Among those hit by the sanctions are the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Electronic Warfare and Cyber Defence Organization; Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace and National Cyberspace Center; and Malaysia-based Green Wave Telecommunication and its Iranian director Morteza Razavi.

In his statement, Trump said the US would work with European partners to remove the nuclear deal’s so-called “sunset clauses”, which allow Iran to gradually resume advanced atomic activity.

“Today, I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal,” Trump said.

“If at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately. No one should doubt my word.”

One aspect of the law that Trump has particularly bristled at is having to give Iran a “thumbs up” every few months by acknowledging that it is meeting its nuclear requirements.

In his statement Friday, Trump said he remained open to revising the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. He said he would only sign it if an Iranian refusal to allow UN inspectors to visit sites triggered an automatic reimposition of US sanctions. He said Iran’s restraint on long-range ballistic missile programmes also must be linked to sanctions relief.