U.S. weighs sanctions relief while bemoaning Iran's behaviour

Saul Bowman
September 15, 2017

APN has signed on to a letter, along with 15 other organizations, calling on Congress to stand in the way of efforts by the Trump Administration to terminate or sabotage United States participation in the Iran nuclear deal.

The agreement among six world powers - Russia, China, France, Germany, Britain and the U.S. - and Iran was supported by former U.S. President Barack Obama.

One source who has advised the White House on the issue told FP the president's staffers are struggling to "thread the needle" and provide him with options that allow him to put more pressure on Iran and break with the policies of the Obama administration while avoiding a precipitous withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

As a result of Iran verifiably meeting its nuclear commitments, the United States and the European Union have lifted nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, as described in the JCPOA.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is consulting US allies in Europe as he seeks a way to toughen restrictions on Iran's nuclear program a month before President Donald Trump faces a deadline to decide whether to walk away from what he's called "the worst deal ever".

He added that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the nuclear deal, is not just a deal between Iran and the USA and Iran has interaction with the other five signatories.

Citing confidentiality requirements, he also would not say, in response to a question, whether any of those "many" access visits had been to military sites. Those, however, aren't specifically covered in the nuclear agreement. At such a situation Iran's right of protesting or even leaving the nuclear agreement is reserved.

"Iran is clearly in defiance of these obligations", Tillerson said, pointing to its support of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, cyber activity and testing of ballistic missiles.

In addition, "sanctions never stopped Iran's nuclear program", argued Sherman, saying that the number of Iranian centrifuges grew to 19,000 under the old sanctions regime despite its crippling effect on the Iranian economy.

Lavrov also told reporters that Iran has lived up to its commitments under the JCPOA. If the president doesn't certify compliance, Congress has 60 days to decide whether to re-impose sanctions lifted under the agreement.

Discussions with America's key worldwide partners about how to handle Iran after some of the current agreement's nuclear restrictions expire are also necessary. And still today, the fallout from the invasion is undermining US national security. If the deal fell apart, "Iran would be back on the march to getting the potential for getting a nuclear weapon, and the IAEA would lose all visibility into the program", Sherman said.

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