President Donald Trump's administration moved Thursday to ratchet up pressure on Iran as the president faces a series of deadlines for decisions on sanctions underpinning the 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.
Officials, congressional aides and outside administration advisers said the president would likely extend the sanctions waivers, citing progress in amending US legislation that governs Washington's participation in the accord.
"Either fix the deal's disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw", he said.
In any event, the U.S. is likely to impose new sanctions on Iran over human right abuses and support for foreign extremist groups rather than nuclear back-sliding.
The Treasury Department also announced on Friday that sanctions would be leveled against 14 individuals and entities in Iran that are connected to "serious human rights abuses and censorship in Iran" as well as Iran's missile program.
"These provisions must have no expiration date".
Trump must officially decide by today whether to continue relief from sanctions that cut off Iran's central bank from the global financial system. Obama administration officials promised the regime would not use the sanctions relief windfall to underwrite terrorism and war and develop advanced weapons. "You can expect there will be more sanctions coming".
In his October remarks, Trump said he would keep a campaign promise to rip up the deal if it came to that.
U.S. officials told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Trump was expected to extend the sanctions relief for another 120 days.
The EU said in a statement it had taken note of Trump's decision and would assess its implications.
Reliable sources reported to The Associated Press that Trump is likely to uphold the agreement in the meantime, but might couple his decision with new sanctions against Iranian officials. "We are cutting off the regime's money flows to terrorists", the president said in the statement.
"It is incumbent on those who oppose the JCPOA to come up with that better solution, because we have not seen it so far".
No other country requires its leaders to periodically justify the deal the way the US president must, but Congress enacted a law with the requirement out of deep and abiding mistrust of Iran's intentions.
"Is he bluffing? I don't think so", Dubowitz tweeted. "It's been four months and Congress has yet to deal with the issue".
The old, central bank sanctions largely cut Iran out of the worldwide financial system, and are considered to be the most powerful of the penalties imposed by the USA during the Obama era, along with global penalties for buying Iranian oil. He called the agreement a "considerable diplomatic accomplishment". "We do not hide the other points of disagreement that exist", Le Drian said.
"While Britain may move to support the USA on this, Germany and France are likely to be strongly opposed", he said.
The foreign ministry noted in an earlier note Saturday on its website that the agreement is "not a bilateral agreement that can be annulled by unilateral action".
Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes and that it will stick to the accord as long as the other signatories respect it, but will "shred" the deal if Washington pulls out.
The EU said it would hold internal consultations and was "committed to the continued full and effective implementation" of the deal.
He is demanding Iran allow immediate inspections at nuclear sites on request, and that so-called "sunset clauses", which see the restrictions on nuclear development relax after ten years, be removed. This would presumably save President Trump from continuing to either defy his own views of the JCPOA or court worldwide condemnation by decertifying it, only to take little or no further action against it.
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