22:12US Quitting JCPOA Could Hurt Its Reputation Rather Than Iran Deal

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The Iranian diplomatic team visiting Vienna for regular talks on the implementation of the nuclear deal (JCPOA) has said diplomats from Iran and the US were likely to hold mutual talks on Friday on the global nuclear agreement, an source close to the Iranian diplomatic team said on Friday. "So, if [it] goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program", he said.

Votel, head of the U.S. Central Command, told lawmakers that he agreed with other top Pentagon figures, including Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, who also have backed the landmark nuclear agreement. One senior negotiator involved in the talks said last week that Europe is prepared to be "creative" in addressing the provisions but would not budge from opposing any measure that would punish Iran for activity that is otherwise permitted under the 2015 agreement. And a meeting of all the signatories to the Iran deal, which includes the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, China, Iran, and the United States, is scheduled for Friday in Vienna.

The periodic meeting of the JCPOA, was being closely watched for an indication of American thinking following Trump's firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The differences are even more stark on the sunset provisions, which are codified in the nuclear deal and which the Europeans and Iran regard as inviolable, according to the diplomats.

US President Donald Trump in October a year ago said he would no longer certify the deal before the US Congress, as required by the US domestic law, and urged the US legislature to improve the nuclear deal.

"I think it spells trouble for the nuclear deal", said Colin Kahl, who served as the national security advisor to former Vice President Joe Biden.

Iran has vowed to oppose any changes to the existing deal.

"It remains to be seen whether the Europeans will want to continue trying to accommodate the Trump administration now that Mr. Tillerson isn't in charge of the State Department", said former United Kingdom diplomat Peter Jenkins.

USA officials said American positions have hardened over the past several weeks, notably on Iranian ballistic missile testing and the deal's provisions that allow Iran to gradually resume advanced atomic work. The European countries all continue to express support for the nuclear deal while also showing willingness to try to address Trump's concerns.

The United States may be unhappy with the agreement, but it is impossible to say for certain that it will quit, just as Iran's reaction is just as hard to predict, according to Kedmi.

U.S., British, French, and German officials are due to meet on the deal in Berlin on March 15.

This is made worse by the fact that Iran now controls four capitals in the Middle East - Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad and Sana'a - and is well on its way to creating a Shiite Crescent across the Middle East.

US sanctions will resume unless Trump issues fresh "waivers" to suspend them under a statutory deadline on May 12. Since the 2015 nuclear deal that reintroduced Iran to global oil markets, this is only the second worldwide development deal that has reached fruition. Well, we're dealing with it in a very serious fashion.

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