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US extends Iran sanctions relief under nuclear deal

© Brendan Smialowski, AFP | US President Donald Trump replies to a question from the press while boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on September 14, 2017, as he travels to Florida.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-09-15

The United States on Thursday extended some sanctions relief for Iran under the 2015 nuclear deal but said it has yet to decide whether to preserve the deal itself, the State Department said.

President Donald Trump, who must make a decision by mid-October that could undermine the agreement, said Iran is violating "the spirit" of the 2015 deal under which Iran got sanctions relief in return for curbing its nuclear program.

In a sign of Trump's desire to put pressure on Iran, which denies violating the deal, the US Treasury announced new cyber-related and other sanctions on seven Iranian individuals, two Iranian entities and two Ukraine-based entities.

"We are not going to stand for what they are doing," Trump told reporters on Air Force One. But he stopped short of saying whether he will refuse to recertify the agreement.

Trump must decide in October whether to certify that Iran is complying with the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). If he does not, Congress has 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions waived under the deal.

The prospect of Washington reneging on the agreement has worried some of the key US allies that helped negotiate the deal, especially as the world grapples with another nuclear crisis, North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and wrote the law giving Congress the right to review the Iran deal, said he and the White House were preparing in case of a change in policy.

He also said he recognised the need to work with allies.

"I think it’s important that ... we take steps that, to the extent we can, we keep all of our allies together," Corker told Reuters. "What you don’t want to do is self-create a crisis for no reason. You want to make sure that you have an outcome here that is a good outcome for the United States and our interest."

'In default'?

Separately, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson argued that the United States must consider the full threat it says Iran poses to the Middle East when formulating its new policy toward Tehran, saying Iran had breached the spirit of the deal. "We have to consider the totality of Iran's activities and not let our view be defined solely by the nuclear agreement," he told a news conference in London.

Citing the preface to the 2015 agreement, Tillerson said "in our view, Iran is clearly in default of these expectations." He cited Iranian support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its development of ballistic missiles and "cyber activities".

Tillerson is expected to hold a first meeting on the Iran nuclear deal with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and other parties to the agreement next week at the United Nations, diplomats said Thursday.

The meeting next Wednesday of the so-called E3+3 (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States) will be chaired by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting, diplomats said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is expected to touch on the fate of the nuclear deal in his UN address on Wednesday, a day after Trump will deliver his first speech to the 193-nation assembly.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)

Date created : 2017-09-15

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