US Says to Stay in Iran Deal for Now

US Says to Stay in Iran Deal for NowUS Says to Stay in Iran Deal for Now

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington would stick to the 2015 nuclear accord for now, as the US Congress missed a deadline for legislative action to meet President Donald Trump's demand for fixing the deal's so-called "flaws".

"We have concerns about whether that agreement's going to deliver on its objective but for the time being, we're in agreement," Tillerson was quoted as saying by Daily News.

Tillerson, who is reportedly expected to leave his White House post amid growing tensions with Trump, made the admission during a town hall-style meeting with career diplomats at the US State Department headquarters in Washington on Monday morning.

The UN-endorsed deal was negotiated under former US president, Barack Obama, to offer sanctions relief in exchange for scaling down Tehran's nuclear development.

In October, Trump declined to certify that Iran was complying with the nuclear agreement reached among Tehran, the United States and other major powers in 2015.

His decision triggered a 60-day window for congress to decide whether to bring back sanctions on Iran.

But congressional leaders let the Tuesday deadline pass without action. By doing that, the congress passed the ball back to Trump, who must decide in mid-January if he wants to continue to waive sanctions on Iran, which Tillerson said he would.

Trump's failure to do so would blow apart the deal, a course opposed by Washington's European allies and Russia and China, the other parties to the accord.

Iran said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and denies pursuing a nuclear weapons program. This has been confirmed by the UN nuclear watchdog's regular inspections.

It has said that it will abide by the accord as long as the other signatories respect it, but will "shred" the deal if Washington pulls out.

  No Plan for New Sanctions

On Tuesday, Reuters cited White House Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders as telling a daily press briefing that the US administration was not asking for sanctions to be reimposed.

"The administration continues to make encouraging progress with congress to fix the US–Iran deal and address long-term proliferation issues," Sanders said.

Trump has called the Iran pact the "worst deal ever" to appease his ally Israel and deceive regional states to buy American weapons.

His fellow Republicans control both chambers of congress but their Senate majority is so small that they need some Democratic support to advance most legislation. Senate Democrats, even those who opposed it two years ago, do not want to tear up the nuclear accord.

Bob Corker, Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters he and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin met national security adviser H.R. McMaster last week to see "if there's language that fits the bill here within congress but also ... keeps them [the Europeans] at the table with us and not feeling like we've gone off in a different direction."

Trump threatened to withdraw from the nuclear agreement if lawmakers did not toughen it by amending the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, or INARA, the US law that opened the possibility of bringing sanctions back.

Cardin, the senior Democrat on the Senate panel, has said he would not support changes to the nuclear pact that are not supported by Europe.


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