Reprieve for Iran nuclear deal as Trump extends waivers on sanctions

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson left and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis right listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House Wednesday Jan. 10 2018 in Washington

The Trump administration unveiled new sanctions on Iran on Friday, but extended a waiver on existing sanctions, effectively keeping the Iran nuclear deal in place temporarily.

While the USA and other world powers rolled back economic restrictions on Tehran, the Iranians severely curtailed their enrichment of uranium and other nuclear activity.

Although Trump approved the waiver on US sanctions as spelled out in the deal, Washington announced other sanctions against 14 Iranian entities and individuals, including judiciary head Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, a close ally of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Russia is concerned over the US announcement on holding negotiations with its European allies to revise the Iran nuclear deal, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters.

President Trump is expected to agree this week to continue granting Iran a reprieve from sanctions over its nuclear program, while again signaling his displeasure with the worldwide nuclear deal that lifted the penalties, US and European officials, congressional aides and others said.

Britain and Germany said Friday they had taken note of Trump's latest decision and would confer with France before responding.

Mr Trump said in a statement, "despite my strong inclination, I have not yet withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal", saying this was the last chance to fix it.

While Trump approved a sanctions waiver, the Treasury Department chose to impose new, targeted sanctions against 14 Iranian entities and individuals.

He underlined that the deal that was signed in 2015 between Iran, and the P5+1 - Russia, France, China, Britain, the United States, plus Germany, can not be amended and that Moscow will "oppose any attempts to hamper it". They argue that if the US pulls out, Iran might kick out worldwide nuclear inspectors. Targets include the head of the Iran judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, and a Chinese ceramics company called BOCHUANG CERAMIC, INC.

"Our close surveillance the IAEA [nuclear authority] has confirmed in nine reports that Iran is fully complying with the commitments made under the agreement".

Trump had lengthy discussions on Thursday with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser HR McMaster and others about the deal, which was reached during the presidency of Democrat Barack Obama.

Trump, he said, would agree to stay in the JCPOA if the agreement would "never expire" and would not entail direct negotiations with Iran, but only with the European partners only, all of which on Thursday stated their support for the JCPOA in meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Brussels. "We have been under USA sanctions for the last 40 years", said Farshad Alyan, a 26-year-old law student. Those mainly targeted Iranian defense officials, as well as a China-based network the U.S. says is supporting Iran's missile program. He wants a more aggressive approach to Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

He paired Friday's concession with other, targeted sanctions on Iran for human rights abuses and ballistic missile development.

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