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Reluctant Trump grants sanctions relief to Iran one last time

From Reuters - January 12, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump grudgingly waived U.S. sanctions on Iran on Friday but aides said it would be the last time he would do so unless the 2015 Iran nuclear deal can be strengthened to inhibit Tehrans nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

A senior administration official said Trump wants the 2015 Iran deal strengthened with a follow-on agreement in 120 days or the United States will unilaterally withdraw from the international pact.

Trump had privately chafed at having to once again waive sanctions on a country he sees as a rising threat in the Middle East. The official said his action on Friday will be the last such waiver he will issue.

While Trump approved a sanctions waiver, the Treasury Department decided to impose new, targeted sanctions against 14 Iranian entities and people.

Trump had lengthy discussions on Thursday with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and others about the deal, which was reached during the presidency of Democrat Barack Obama.

Trump will work with European partners on a follow-on agreement that enshrines certain triggers that the Iranian regime cannot exceed related to ballistic missiles, said a senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the decision.

One official said Trump would be open to remaining in a modified deal if it was made permanent.

Trump also wants the U.S. Congress to modify a law that reviews U.S. participation in the nuclear deal to include trigger points that if violated would lead to the United States reimposing its sanctions, the official said.

This would not entail negotiations with Iran, the official said, but rather would be the result of talks between the United States and its European allies. Work already has begun on this front, the official said.

Trump has argued behind the scenes that the nuclear deal makes the United States look weak, a senior U.S. official said. The argument for staying in, the official said, was to allow time to toughen the terms of the agreements.

A decision to withhold a waiver would have effectively ended the deal that limits Irans nuclear program. The 2015 agreement between the United States and Iran also was signed by China, France, Russia, Britain, Germany and the European Union, and these countries would have been unlikely to join the United States in reimposing sanctions.

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