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Trump issues ultimatum to 'fix' Iran nuclear deal

From Reuters - January 12, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday gave the Iran nuclear deal a final reprieve but warned European allies and Congress they had to work with him to fix the terrible flaws of the pact or face U.S. withdrawal.

Trump said he would waive sanctions against Iran lifted as part of the deal but only as a last chance and would not do so again. The ultimatum puts pressure on Europeans - key backers and parties to the 2015 international agreementto satisfy Trump, who has called the deal to curb Irans nuclear program the worst ever.

Trump wants the deal strengthened with a separate agreement within 120 days or the United States will unilaterally withdraw from the international pact, warning: No one should doubt my word.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Twitter that the deal was not renegotiable and that Trumps stance amounts to desperate attempts to undermine a solid multilateral agreement.

Trump, who has sharply criticized the deal reached during Democrat Barack Obamas presidency, had privately chafed at having to once again waive sanctions on a country he sees as a rising threat in the Middle East.

This is a last chance, Trump said in a statement. In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately.

Underscoring the difficulty now facing Europeans, a European diplomat, speaking under condition of anonymity, said: Its going to be complicated to save the deal after this.

While Trump approved the sanctions waiver, the Treasury Department announced new, targeted sanctions against 14 entities and people, including the head of Irans judiciary.

Trump now 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.

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, Trump said in the statement. If other nations fail to act during this time, I will terminate our deal with Iran.

Republican Senator Bob Corker said significant progress had been made on bipartisan congressional legislation to address the flaws in the agreement without violating U.S. commitments.

SEVERAL CONDITIONS

Trump laid out several conditions to keep the United States in the deal. Iran must allow immediate inspections at all sites requested by international inspectors, he said, and that provisions preventing Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon must not expire. Trump said U.S. law must tie long-range missile and nuclear weapons programs together, making any missile testing by Iran subject to severe sanctions.

Trump 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.

PRESSURE FROM EUROPE

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