Tough talk from US on Iran while extending some sanctions relief

The Trump administration is being coy about whether the United States will preserve a 2015 deal with Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions.


The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA, saw Iran consent to halting its development of nuclear weapons in return for the lifting of sanctions by Western nations.

US President Donald Trump has frequently criticised the deal, made by his predecessor Barack Obama, as bad for the country’s national safety.

Now, ahead of a United Nations meeting next week, Mr Trump was blunt.

“We are not going to stand for what they are doing to this country. They have violated so many different elements but they’ve also violated the spirit of that deal, and you’ll see what we’ll be doing in October.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been meeting Britain’s foreign minister, Boris Johnson, in London.

Mr Tillerson says in deciding whether or not to renew the deal, countries must look at more than just Iran’s compliance with the agreement.

He says other actions Iran is engaging in should have a bearing on the decision.

“Through their actions to prop up the Assad regime (Syrian President Bashar Assad), to engage in malicious activities in the region including cyber activity, aggressively developing ballistic missiles, and all of this is in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, thereby threatening – not ensuring, but threatening – the security of those in the region, as well as the United States itself. So we have to consider the totality of Iran’s activities.”

Cyber-restrictions, meanwhile, are to be placed on several Iranian individuals and entities.

This is allegedly due to their involvement in either malicious cyber-activities, or Tehran’s nuclear program.

But the US has also agreed to extend the waiving of some sanctions on Iran’s government.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the move doesn’t hold any hidden meaning.

“Waiving some of those sanctions should not be seen as an indication of President Trump or his administration’s position on the JCPOA, nor is the waiver giving the Iranian regime a pass on its broad range of malign behaviour. Again, no decisions have been made on the final JCPOA, we still have some time for that.”

Every 90 days officials must report to Congress on Iran’s adherence to the deal.

The next deadline is in mid-October.

Yukiya Amano, the head of the UN’s nuclear body, the International Atomic Energy Agency, says Iran is playing by the rules.

“The nuclear related commitments undertaken by Iran under the JCPOA are being implemented. We will continue to implement the additional protocol in Iran, including carrying out complimentary accesses to sites and other locations, as we do in other countries with additional protocols.”

Iran has threatened to restore its nuclear program should any party to the deal fail to honour its terms.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi says that includes the US.

“Any country that fails to fulfil its commitments for any reason must pay a heavy price for failing to honour its commitments. This can be the US or any other country.”