Trump 'desperate' to undermine nuclear deal, says Iran Foreign Minister Zarif

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Thursday that he expected Trump to impose new sanctions on Iran, without addressing what he would decide on the nuclear deal's sanctions. Trump has complained that numerous Iranian restrictions expire next decade and has vacillated between talk of toughening the deal and pulling the US out entirely. "No one should doubt my word".

In his lengthy statement, Trump said the US would work with European partners to remove the nuclear deal's so-called "sunset clauses", which allow Iran to gradually resume advanced atomic activity.

MARTIN: The deadline for reimposing these sanctions on Iran is tomorrow. This would presumably save President Trump from continuing to either defy his own views of the JCPOA or court worldwide condemnation by decertifying it, only to take little or no further action against it.

If he does allow the punitive measures to go back into effect, Iran will accuse the United States of breaking the deal, under which Tehran accepted restrictions on its nuclear program.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke by phone Thursday with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, the State Department said in a brief statement that did not mention whether the two diplomats discussed the coming sanctions deadline and Trump's response.

Earlier, European powers urged Mr Trump to uphold that agreement, saying it was vital for worldwide security.

But Trump argues that his predecessor Barack Obama gave away too much to Iran in sanctions relief, without forcing the Islamic republic to end its ballistic missile program and aggressive support for militant groups.

Other debates center on Iran's missile testing.

This conflict has been given new focus by the anticipation of Trump's latest decisions, to which the Iranians responded with preemptive threats.

"Trump's policy & today's announcement amount to desperate attempts to undermine a solid multilateral agreement", Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in a tweet on Friday. All of the other participants in the deal - including USA allies in Europe - have said Iran is honoring the agreement.

The pact lifted economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear ambitions. If he does not sign the sanctions waiver this week, the US will be violating its end of the nuclear agreement. "We have sanctioned almost 100 individuals and entities involved with the Iranian regime's ballistic missile program and its other illicit activities".

Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, described Mr Trump's comments as "extremely negative". The last time the agreement came up for review, in October, aides had to talk him out of abandoning it completely. "This is a last chance. It's a campaign that we have carried on since October", referring to Trump's decision not to certify that Tehran is meeting the terms of a pact to stop it developing nuclear weapons. In effect, Trump's proposal calls for American lawmakers to take over judgments on Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"The president's decision is to waive once more the nuclear sanctions that the terms of the JCPOA require the United States to waive in order to remain in the deal", the White House official said.

Still, Trump left some room to maneuver in his statement.

The White House wants a deal with European Union signatories to make restrictions on Iran's uranium enrichment permanent. Whether that must come in binding action isn't clear.

That major shift in US policy put the United States at odds with its European allies, as well as Russian Federation and China that are also signatories to the nuclear accord, in the most visible transatlantic split on foreign policy since the 2003 USA invasion of Iraq.

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