US sanctions top Iranian official for first time since nuclear deal

US sanctions top Iranian official for first time since nuclear deal

Referring to Mr Trump's threats to scrap the nuclear deal, the statement said Iran "will not accept any amendments in this agreement, be it now or in the future, and it will not allow any other issues to be linked to the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]".

The US president says he wants to amend the deal - or withdraw from it completely.

The U.S. has "crossed a red line" by imposing sanctions on Judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, the Foreign Ministry says.

Trump's decision was announced alongside another package of new sanctions - punishing not Iran's nuclear program, but its alleged abuse of human rights in a crackdown on recent street protests.

"But in his statement, the president will also make clear that this is the last such waiver that he will issue". The president is required to take action on these waivers as well as on the JCPOA itself.

In a background briefing, senior administration officials said this is Trump's "waiver" on Iran.

Trump has gotten a lot of pushback from both allies and in his own administration against the idea of pulling out of the deal.

The US can not unilaterally alter the JCPOA, which was negotiated among Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the European Union, and Germany.

Tehran would not be involved in these discussions, as it was prior to the signing of the 2015 accord, but would be subject to USA and European sanctions if it breaks the terms of the new arrangement.

The prospective bill might also eliminate the every-90-day certification requirement, according to Reuters.

While most European leaders were silent Saturday, those who reacted were unhappy with Trump's approach.


Steinberg ventured a prediction, saying, "It's guess work with Trump, but If I had to put money down, and I don't want to, I would estimate that he'll decide to what he did last time, because it worked". The resulting absence of desired modifications to the deal may prove to be frustrating to the White House.

Such a balance could satisfy Trump's demand to raise pressure on Iran, while not embarking on a frontal assault on the most central trade-offs of the nuclear agreement.

As the BBC reported on Thursday, those reporters reiterated their support for the JCPOA just ahead of Trump's latest decisions on it.

German Minister Sigmar Gabriel also stood up for the deal, and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he didn't see a "better alternative ..."

Trump declared in October that the agreement was "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into", and warned that within a few years Iran would be able to "sprint towards a rapid nuclear weapons breakout". He said France remained dedicated to the agreement.

A decision to withhold a waiver would have effectively ended the deal between Iran and the other worldwide signatories.

The United States meant to work with its European partners on a follow-on agreement which enshrines certain "triggers" that Iran can not exceed related to ballistic missiles and inspections, said senior Trump administration officials on Friday while briefing reporters about Trump's decision.

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.

Other Iranian officials repeated warnings that the country could return to uranium enrichment at a far greater level than before the deal was concluded.

Describing sanctions against Larijani as "hostile action", Iran's Foreign Ministry said the move "crossed all red lines of conduct in the worldwide community and is a violation of global law and will surely be answered by a serious reaction of the Islamic Republic", state media reported. If they cannot reach an agreement, Congress could end the U.S. role in the JCPOA.

Europeans say these issues should be kept separate from discussion of the deal, but in a nod to USA concerns, Mogherini stressed they were raised with Zarif on Thursday. These areas fall outside the scope of the nuclear deal.

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