WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Donald Trump waived nuclear sanctions against Iran for what the White House said was the final time under the current deal.
By the time the next waiver signing rolls around in 120 days, Trump wants a new deal in place that removes “sunset clauses” allowing Iran to resume enhanced enrichment of fissile material within a decade, three senior administration officials said Friday. Trump wants the bans to be permanent. “He wants to deny Iran access to nuclear weapons forever and not just for 10years,” one of the officials said.
The officials spoke Friday in a conference call for journalists on the condition they not be named.
The officials said Trump expected America’s European allies who are also parties to the 2015 accord, which swapped sanctions relief for a rollback of Iran’s nuclear program, to join with him in reworking the deal. He is also demanding a permanent end to Iran’s enrichment of fissile material at a grade sufficient for weapons use. As it stands, Iran is currently allowed to enrich uranium to low grades unsuitable for weapons use.
In a statement later Friday Trump said those who do not work with him to amend the deal are effectively siding with Iran.
“I hereby call on key European countries to join with the United States in fixing significant flaws in the deal, countering Iranian aggression, and supporting the Iranian people,” he said. “If other nations fail to act during this time, I will terminate our deal with Iran. Those who, for whatever reason, choose not to work with us will be siding with the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions, and against the people of Iran and the peaceful nations of the world.”
The officials notably did not say that Trump expected the other two nations party to the deal — Russia and China — to join in the revision of the deal. The three European nations that are party to the deal, France, Germany and Britain, have said that they do not want to reopen the deal unless all parties are agreed. Russia and China are adamantly opposed to renegotiating the deal, as is Iran.
Trump first called on the European nations to reopen the deal to modifications in October; there has been no sign that any party to the deal outside Trump is willing to do so. The Europeans have said they are willing to consider enhancing sanctions outside the nuclear deal, for instance targeting Iran’s missile program and human rights abuses.
Trump, the same day he waived the nuclear sanctions, imposed new sanctions on Iran for its human rights abuses and its military adventurism.
Most prominent among the 14 individuals and entities named in the new sanctions was Sadegh Amoli Larijani, who heads Iran’s judiciary and who is brother to the speaker of the Iranian parliament. Other sanctions target suppliers of Iran’s military and Iran’s cybersecurity sector, which the administration officials said plays a central role in censorship in Iran.
Notably absent from the entities was Iran’s Central Bank. The nuclear deal removed a number of sanctions on the Central Bank, and there had been reports that Trump would impose new sanctions, albeit not for reasons related to Iran’s nuclear development. Had he sanctioned the bank, there was speculation that Iran would view the deal as effectively abrogated.
Under U.S. law, U.S. businesses may not deal with Iran. The sanctions, when they are in place, target third parties overseas that deal with Iran and have the effect — because of the reach of the U.S. dollar — of severely inhibiting trade with Iran.
Trump also wants Congress to impose new strictures on dealing with Iran, including a law that would explicitly tie Iran’s missile programs to its nuclear program. Trump has said that the nuclear deal, which he called the “worst deal in history,” was flawed in part because it did not address missile development.
Congress has so far shown little interest in using legislation to undercut or change the current Iran nuclear deal.