Trump Moderating Harsh Stance on Nuclear Deal

Trump Moderating Harsh Stance on Nuclear DealTrump Moderating Harsh Stance on Nuclear Deal

Lawmakers say extension of the sanctions relief by beleaguered US President Donald Trump, as required under the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, indicates backtracking on his deal-bashing rhetoric.

The historic agreement was clinched between Iran and six world powers (five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) to swap sanctions relief for time-bound constraints on Tehran's nuclear program. Trump on Wednesday extended the easing of nuclear sanctions for four months.

"Renewal of sanctions relief was a target of Trump's fiery rhetoric before the [US presidential] election [November 8, 2015]. Decisions by the Trump administration so far suggest that Washington does not intend to reinstate the anti-Iran restrictions," Masoud Goudarzi said in an interview with ICANA on Saturday.

"Trump is now trying to kick the ball into Iran's court by pushing it (Tehran) to violate the JCPOA so that he will not have to fulfill any of his promises to kill the nuclear deal," the MP said, citing the official name of the accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Candidate Trump vehemently condemned the international agreement, seen as the signature achievement and legacy of his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

  Unclear Policy

On the campaign trail the hawkish Republican branded the agreement as "the worst deal ever negotiated" and vowed to either undo or rework it.

However despite his openly antagonistic stance, Trump has stopped short of clearly stating what policy he would pursue vis-à-vis the deal.

His administration, in a notification to the US legislature last month, acknowledged that the Islamic Republic was complying with the nuclear restrictions, but said it was launching an inter-agency review of whether the lifting of sanctions against Iran was in the United States' national security interests.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson apprised the Congress of that assessment in a letter to House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan.

The accord requires the US State Department to notify Congress every 90 days on Iran's compliance.

The Trump administration also reaffirmed commitment to the action plan during the last meeting of a supervisory panel on April 25, despite his anti-accord posturing. The panel, known as the Joint Commission, comprises representatives of all the seven parties to the JCPOA and was established pursuant to the deal to monitor its implementation and handle any dispute that may arise. Under US law, nuclear sanctions can be waived for a maximum of 120 days.

   Confidence on Deal's Durability

Lawmaker Shahrouz Barzegar is confident that Trump would continue to approve the easing of sanctions because otherwise he could face a challenge from his own people and from other parties to the deal, namely Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany.

"If Trump decides to uphold his electoral pledges and refuses to renew the removal of the sanctions, it would constitute a breach of the JCPOA and he would have to be accountable to (US) public opinion."  

The US regularly extends the suspension of its sanctions, drawing on the findings of the UN nuclear agency's verification of Iran's compliance as well as its own independent probe. While announcing the extension of the sanctions relief on Wednesday, Trump imposed narrow penalties on Iranian and Chinese companies and individuals for contributing to Iran's ballistic missile program.

That prompted the Islamic Republic to add nine US individuals and entities to its list of sanctions for human rights violations and cooperation with Israel.


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