Trump keeps Iran deal, but threatens more sanctions

President Donald Trump gestures during a Made in America product showcase event at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 17, 2017.
President Donald Trump gestures during a Made in America product showcase event at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 17, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump has backed away from a campaign promise to scrap a major nuclear security deal with Iran, with officials announcing that the agreement and related sanctions relief will stay in place for now.

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

"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."

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 nuclear weapon. But it has not relieved tensions.

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Mr Trump has now twice affirmed Iran's compliance since taking office, effectively keeping the deal in place.

But the White House took pains to stress it was not going soft on Iran. An official said: "We do expect (to be) implementing new sanctions that pertain to Iran's ballistic missile programme... Iran remains one of the most dangerous threats to US interests and regional stability."

Meanwhile, Iran's Parliament voted yesterday to urgently work towards increasing funds for the country's missile programme and Revolutionary Guards in response to Washington's "adventurism" in the region. The motion was introduced after the US Senate passed new sanctions on Iran last month.

The proposed Bill, published by Isna news agency, mandates Teheran to allocate an extra US$260 million (S$355 million) to the joint armed forces for the "development of the missile programme" and the same sum to the Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2017, with the headline 'Trump keeps Iran deal, but threatens more sanctions'. Print Edition | Subscribe