U.S. ultimatum on nuclear deal, new sanctions draw Iran threat

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks before signing a proclamation to honor Martin Luther King Jr. day in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington
FILE PHOTO - U.S. President Donald Trump speaks before signing a proclamation to honor Martin Luther King Jr. day in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

January 14, 2018

By Andrey Ostroukh

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Iran said on Saturday it would retaliate against new sanctions imposed by the United States after President Donald Trump set an ultimatum to fix “disastrous flaws” in a deal curbing Tehran’s nuclear program.

Trump said on Friday he would waive nuclear sanctions on Iran for the last time to give the United States and European allies a final chance to amend the pact. Washington also imposed sanctions on the head of Iran’s judiciary and others.

Russia – one of the parties to the Iran pact alongside the United States, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union – called Trump’s comments “extremely negative.”

The ultimatum puts pressure on Europeans, key backers of the 2015 nuclear deal, to satisfy Trump, who wants the pact strengthened with a separate agreement within 120 days.

While approving the waiver on U.S. sanctions related to the nuclear deal, Washington announced other sanctions against 14 Iranian entities and people, including judiciary head Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, a close ally of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Describing sanctions against Larijani as “hostile action”, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the move “crossed all red lines of conduct in the international community and is a violation of international law and will surely be answered by a serious reaction of the Islamic Republic,” state media reported.

It did not specify what any retaliation might involve.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had earlier said on Twitter that the deal was “not renegotiable” and that Trump’s move “amounts to desperate attempts to undermine a solid multilateral agreement.”

Iran says its nuclear program has only peaceful aims and says it will stick to the accord as long as others respect it. But it has said it would “shred” the deal if Washington quit.

“LAST CHANCE”

Trump, who has sharply criticized the deal reached in Barack Obama’s presidency, had chafed at having to once again waive sanctions on a country he sees as a threat in the Middle East.

“Despite my strong inclination, I have not yet withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal,” Trump said in a statement, saying the options were to fix “the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw.”

“This is a last chance,” Trump said, pushing for a separate agreement and saying the United States would not waive sanctions again to keep Iran in the pact without such an agreement.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called Trump’s remarks “extremely negative”, RIA state news agency reported. “Our worst fears are being confirmed,” he said.

The EU said in a statement it had taken note of Trump’s decision and would assess its implications. “It’s going to be complicated to save the deal after this,” said one European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Britain, France and Germany had called on Trump on Thursday to uphold the pact.

Senior U.S. administration officials told reporters Trump would work with Europeans on a follow-on deal to enshrine triggers that the Iranian government could not exceed related to ballistic missiles.

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

CONDITIONS

Trump laid out conditions to keep Washington in the deal. Iran must allow “immediate inspections at all sites requested by international inspectors,” he said, and “sunset” provisions imposing limits on Iran’s nuclear program 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.”

The president wants 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 but would be the result of talks with European allies, the official said.

A decision to withhold a waiver would have effectively ended the deal between Iran and the other international signatories. The other parties to the agreement would have been unlikely to join the United States in reimposing sanctions.

Two EU diplomats said EU foreign ministers would discuss next steps at their next regular meeting on Jan. 22 in Brussels.

(Additional reporting by by Andrey Ostroukh in Moscow, Jeff Mason, Doina Chiacu, David Alexander and Arshad Mohammed in Washington, Robin Emmott in Brussels, John Irish in Paris and Parisa Hafezi in Ankara; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Alexander Smith)

  • pefleming12

    Iran is a “paper tiger” who can’t pull the “wool” over President Trump’s eyes as they did Obama’s. Obama was their friend because he is a Muslim. Trump put’s American citizens first., thank God.

  • TYvets

    If ppl don’t go to jaul, i fear for the US

  • Sure, Not

    As usual, all Roiders can come up with for world reaction is “fear” from Russia and “difficulty” from an anonymous EU official. Not one source that admits that Iran has been routinely denying inspectors from requested sites. Nope, that information would support that Trump is, once again, correct in his assessment that something has to change.

  • steve

    All good comments below. Thanks. It is impossible for a Christian or Jew to separate the implications of (potential) destruction of Israel from world wide dramatic ramifications, IMO. This “deal” with Iran, considering that the ZerO was behind it, can only mean that it was tailored to destroy the United States and Israel as we have known them. Either Iran will be toppled (as a theocracy) from within or through military action with Israel and the United States as major players.
    Looking at this and all of the other things the ZerO and his ilk have and continue to do, how can anyone not see the diabolical intent?

    • captaingrumpy

      I love a conspiracy.

      • Mark Steiner

        Not a conspiracy, it’s a plan. And the plan is working quite well judging by the results so far.

  • Slowpoke the Cruiser

    Thanks, Barry!

  • Javanne

    The magnitude of the response from Russia and especially Iran clearly shows that they believe Trump will do what he has threatened to do. Naturally, there will be some bluster from the mullahs.First, they will either try to throw him a bone or stall, but when those fail, they will get serious about trying to make a deal Trump will accept. Soon, another aspect of Obama’s awful legacy will bite the dust. Every day, I thank Providence that his third term extension, Hillary lost.

    • Mark Steiner

      If things were to go militarily with N.Korea, (and that can include China and Russia getting involved, as well) it’s possible Iran or someone in the middle east would make their move to start a more intense activity, possibly against Israel. With America busy with its troops in a 2 front situation, (and if history repeats itself) the internal war DHS has predicted could start here. (Similar to the Bolsheviks starting their revolution when the Czar’s troops were fighting the Germans in WW1. They were ordered to return to Russia to quell the revolution but it was too late. The Czar and his family gone and Czarist Russia collapsed.)

      • Huks

        However the Russian people didn’t have the 2nd amendment. I am not saying it can’t happen here but it would be MUCH harder.

    • All American

      Thank the American Patriot and his Family who stepped away from their quite lovely, peaceful life and fought to win this Presidency for the people🇺🇸MAGA MASA🇺🇸

  • Andrew Moore8

    Will Europe say that Iran is pursuing a peaceful nuclear program if it drops a 40 mega ton nuclear device on their heads?

  • Tom Horn

    PFFFFTT….. Iran never adhered to ANY part of that supposed deal. They do not let anyone inspect their most important nuclear facilities and are going ahead full bore on their nuke program. They are offending and attacking countries left and right, murdering people, funding and arming terrorism, etc. I’m sure all the protestors they arrested are dead now.

    • Tom Horn

      This was just a multi year plan by the Radical Islamic Terrorist traitor Obama to protect the evil Iran from the world and give them money and advance their bloody Islamic revolution.

      • All American

        Barry supported every kind of terrorism! Can anyone name a group that the Soltero administration did not support involved in terrorist activities?