Trump gives 'last chance' ultimatum on Iran nuclear deal

Sergio Conner
January 13, 2018

President kept the Iranian nuclear deal in place Friday for another 120 days but warned it's the last time, as the US seeks a tougher agreement against Tehran with European allies, and the administration slapped with fresh sanctions unrelated to the agreement.

At the same time the U.S. imposed fresh sanctions on 14 individuals and entities over alleged rights abuses.

A senior U.S. administration official said Friday that Trump wants the Iran deal strengthened with a follow-on agreement in 120 days or the United States will unilaterally withdraw from the worldwide pact. The current one expires after a decade. It also could hand Iran a pretext to start limiting United Nations inspections or restart its nuclear program.

The consequences would have been far-reaching if Trump had decided not to continue waiving nuclear-related sanctions.

The 2015 nuclear accord, reached after months of painstaking negotiations with the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, China and Russian Federation, lifted worldwide sanctions in exchange for Iran limiting its nuclear program.

"In what we heard yesterday, I don't see any invitation for Iran to enter dialogue", he said.

According to the Treasury statement, many Iranians who recently protested against their government are imprisoned at Rajaee Shahr, a facility where prisoners participating in hunger strikes are denied medical care and where there are reported incidents of sexual abuse and unlawful executions, stated the Bloomberg report.

A decision to withhold a waiver would have effectively ended the deal between Iran and the other worldwide signatories.

In a statement Saturday, Iran's Foreign Ministry said the Trump administration's "hostile and illegal act" in including Larijani on its sanctions list "has gone way beyond all internationally accepted behavior red lines".

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

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What is the nuclear deal?

In return, decades of global and USA nuclear-related sanctions were suspended.

In conjunction with the waivers, the Treasury Department placed sanctions on 14 people and entities for alleged offenses unrelated to Iran's nuclear industry.

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

Trump said Friday he wanted America's European allies to use the 120-day period before sanctions relief again comes up for renewal to agree to tougher measures and new conditions, otherwise, he noted, Washington would pull out of the deal.

"If at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately", he said.

Officials said the administration will discuss the changes it is seeking with Europeans but will not talk directly with Iran.

He was prepared to back a modification to the existing deal if it were made permanent, one official said.

Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear programme for at least 10 years in exchange for the relaxation of sanctions which have hamstrung its economic development in recent years. These penalties largely cut Iran out of the global financial system, until they were suspended by Obama under the nuclear deal. Others were linked to support for the country's ballistic missile program.

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