Trump issues ultimatum to 'fix' Iran nuclear deal

Iran calls fresh US sanctions illegal, hostile

On Friday, Trump agreed to waive sanctions against Iran for the last time to give the United States and European allies a final chance to amend the pact.

President Donald Trump on Friday avoided upending the nuclear deal with Iran that he has repeatedly disparaged, agreeing to waive key sanctions the U.S. lifted as part of the deal.

His ultimatum puts pressure on Europeans - key backers and parties to the 2015 worldwide agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program - to satisfy Mr Trump, who wants the pact strengthened with a separate agreement within 120 days.

China will continue playing a constructive role in maintaining and implementing the Iran nuclear deal, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday.

"I hereby call on key European countries to join with the United States in fixing significant flaws in the deal, countering Iranian aggression, and supporting the Iranian people", Trump said in the statement.

"Trump's policy & today's announcement amount to desperate attempts to undermine a solid multilateral agreement, maliciously violating its paras 26, 28 & 29".

On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to Trump's remarks by saying on Twitter that the nuclear deal was not renegotiable and that the USA must comply with it fully. "And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately", he warned.

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Trump and his top advisers have been negotiating with USA lawmakers on Capitol Hill to try to change sanctions legislation so that he does not face a deadline on whether to recertify Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal every 90 days. Trump wants them to help the US devise a new agreement created to prevent Iran from escalating nuclear activity again next decade, as permitted under the 2015 arrangement reached by President Barack Obama. These penalties largely cut Iran out of the worldwide financial system, until they were suspended by Obama under the nuclear deal.

While there may be some relief that Trump has yet to torpedo the hard-won accord, there were clear signs of frustration from European capitals in the runup to the decision. The Treasury Department's action hits 14 Iranian officials and companies and businessmen from Iran, China and Malaysia, freezing any assets they have in the USA and banning Americans from doing business with them. "No one should doubt my word".

Hard-liners on Iran in the US Congress have called for the reimposition of the suspended sanctions and an end to the nuclear deal, while some liberal Democrats want to pass legislation that would make it harder for Trump to pull Washington out without congressional consent.

Washington is expected to impose fresh penalties against Russian Federation as soon as early February for its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential vote.

The US Congress requires the president to decide periodically whether to certify Iran's compliance with the deal and issue a waiver to allow US sanctions to remain suspended.

The EU said in a statement it had taken note of Trump's decision and would assess its implications. "It also will not allow the JCPOA to be linked to any other issue", it said.


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