Trump recertifies Iran deal, but threatens more sanctions

The United States said on Monday that Iran is continuing to comply with the terms of the nuclear deal that curbed Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump backed away from a campaign promise to scrap a major nuclear security deal with Iran on Tuesday, following a meeting with his national security advisers that lasted hours, with officials announcing the agreement and related sanctions relief will stay in place for now.

Under the terms of the two-year-old agreement, Tehran scaled back production of nuke-making material in return for massive sanctions relief.

Trump has repeatedly condemned the deal brokered by President Barack Obama as a dangerous capitulation to Iran.

The Trump administration faced a new congressional deadline on Monday to say whether Iran has curbed its nuclear weapons programme in line with the accord.

The decision was the second time the administration certified Iran’s compliance, and aides said a frustrated Trump had told his security team that he would not keep doing so indefinitely.

"The conditions," according to one official who the White House would not name publicly, "have been met, based on information available to the United States."

Administration officials announced the certification on Monday evening while emphasizing that they intended to toughen enforcement of the deal, apply new sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism and other destabilizing activities, and negotiate with European partners to craft a broader strategy to increase pressure on Tehran. Aides said Trump had insisted on such actions before agreeing to the consensus recommendation of his national security team.

“The president has made very clear that he thought this was a bad deal — a bad deal for the United States,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters at a briefing on Monday before the decision was made.

By law, the administration is required to notify Congress every 90 days whether Iran is living up to the deal, which limited its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions.

The 2015 agreement rests on a series of technical benchmarks, and was seen in Washington as a way of avoiding military action to prevent Iran from getting a nuke.

During his election campaign Trump denounced the Obama-era deal, promising to renegotiate it and vowing to get tough on Iran.

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