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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Trump 'won't abandon Iran nuclear deal' as Congress drafts compromise

Reports suggest the administration is instead expected to add new non-nuclear targeted sanctions on Iran

Inside the Iranian nuclear power plant unit in Bushehr, about 1,200km south of Tehran. Reuters
Inside the Iranian nuclear power plant unit in Bushehr, about 1,200km south of Tehran. Reuters

US president Donald Trump will refrain from taking a significant measure that could have unravelled the Iran nuclear deal this week, and instead will continue to sign a waiver that would offer sanctions relief to Iran thus keeping the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in place.

With the deadline looming on Saturday, three months after the decertification of the deal by the White House last October, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Mr Trump “is expected this week to extend relief from economic sanctions to Iran as part of the nuclear deal, citing progress in amending US legislation that governs Washington’s participation.”

The legislation is being worked on in Congress as part of a compromise that allows Mr Trump to keep the JCPOA while having reservations against it.

The report, quoting administration officials and Congressional sources, said Mr Trump will sign the waiver that has prevented the cutback of nuclear sanctions since the accord was reached in 2015. A congressional source told The National that members of both parties would like to see “better enforcement of the deal” instead of reneging on it.

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In parallel, the same source expected separate sanctions to be announced on Iran, targeting regime individuals and those responsible for the crackdown on the protests that started on December 28.

Last October, Mr Trump gave Congress and European partners three months to strengthen provisions in JCPOA, in order to sign a waiver that would continue to freeze US sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear program.

Separately, the White House issued a statement on Wednesday reiterating its deep concern by “reports that the Iranian regime has imprisoned thousands of ‎Iranian citizens in the past week for engaging in peaceful protests” and others “that the regime has tortured or killed some of these demonstrators while in detention are even more disturbing”.

“We will not remain silent as the Iranian dictatorship represses the basic rights of its citizens and will hold Iran’s leaders accountable for any violations. The protesters in Iran are expressing legitimate grievances, including demanding an end to their government's oppression, corruption, and waste of national resources on military adventures,” the statement read.

The Trump administration called “for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran, including the victims of the most recent crackdown.”