Iran says nuclear deal with major powers not renegotiable

Erika Holt
January 14, 2018

The Trump administration has accused Iran of fomenting instability and violence across the Mideast, and the president's decision gives the White House and Congress more time to forge legislation punishing the country for that behavior without directly ending the nuclear accord that Iran reached with the USA and five other world powers.

Hailed by former President Barack Obama as key to stopping Iran from building a nuclear bomb, the deal lifted economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program to peaceful purposes.

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Trump of "maliciously violating" the nuclear deal.

"We are gradually coming to the conclusion that an internal decision by the U.S. to leave the (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) has already been made or is close to being made", Ryabkov said in an interview with Interfax news agency. But their negotiations can only truly heat up now that Trump has offered further sanctions relief.

Trump on Friday grudgingly agreed not to reimpose nuclear sanctions on Iran, but warned that it would be the last time he issues such a waiver. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called it.

"But it's a really hard needle to thread".

One official said Trump would be open to remaining in a modified deal if it was made permanent. To put it bluntly - how stupid can you get.

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While the United States, the United Nations and the European Union have lifted most nuclear-related sanctions, unilaterally imposed US sanctions going back decades remain in place.

Shortly after Trump announced his decision, the US Treasury Department slapped 14 individuals and entities responsible for "serious human rights abuses and censorship in Iran" with sanctions.

While Trump did not levy nuclear sanctions on the regime, the administration is hitting Iran with several other sanctions for its ballistic missile activity and violent crackdown on anti-government protesters in recent weeks. These penalties largely cut Iran out of the global financial system, until they were suspended by Obama under the nuclear deal.

Will Congress have the courage to pass such a bill?

This was so predictable it's hard to believe someone with an IQ in triple digits would have believed it could have been otherwise - yet Corker, Cardin and nearly the entire Democratic Party did.

The Iranian statement said the targeting of one of the officials, judiciary chief Sadegh Amoli Larijani, "crossed all behavioral red lines of the worldwide community". "But I think it's hard". "I mean, the devil's in the details". These penalties largely cut Iran out of the worldwide financial system, until they were suspended by Obama under the nuclear deal. But his explicit warning to Europe that the deal must be fixed by the time the next sanctions waivers are due in the spring creates a high-stakes diplomatic deadline that will be hard to meet. Still, Corker will have his work cut out for him when selling the result of his talks with Cardin. It is also critical that the United States remains part of the deal, they said. One of those Republicans, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, on Thursday aligned himself with the camp of onetime GOP critics seeking space for Corker and Cardin to try to salvage the nuclear agreement.

"My impression talking to Europeans is, yes, they want to salvage the deal", but imposing new requirements on Iran may give it reason to walk away.

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