(July 30, 2019 / JNS) The Trump administration is expected to extend another round of temporary waivers on Thursday to permit countries part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to conduct civil nuclear projects with the regime, despite pressure from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton and Iran hawks on Capitol Hill.
According to the Post, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin convinced Trump that if the sanctions weren’t waived, the United States would be required to sanction European, Chinese and Russian companies involved in Iran’s nuclear projects.
“We still have the goal of ending these waivers,” a senior administration official told the Post. “These waivers can be revoked at any time, as developments with Iran warrant. But because of the Treasury Department’s legitimate concerns, we’ve decided to extend them for now.”
The United States withdrew in May 2018 from the nuclear accord, reimposing sanctions lifted under it along with enacting new financial penalties against the regime.
“The revocation of select civil nuclear cooperation waivers is an important measure of both the administration’s nuclear policy and its dedication to the max pressure campaign against Iran,” Foundation for the Defense of Democracies senior fellow Behnam ben Taleblu told Politico. “It makes little sense to reward Iran with all these waivers as it engages in activities that are clear violations of the JCPOA.”
Republican lawmakers, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, have called for the end of waivers.
“Mr. President, your maximum pressure campaign on Iran is working,” wrote 50 U.S. lawmakers in a July letter to Trump, led by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). “To continue your successful strategy, we must renew all U.S. and international sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Cruz slammed the administration.
“I hope these reports turn out to be wrong. The president has correctly ordered his administration to halt implementation of the catastrophic Obama-Iran nuclear deal,” he said. “These waivers are part of the deal, and allow the ayatollahs to build up their nuclear program, including at Fordow, a bunker they dug into the side of a mountain so they could build nuclear weapons.”
“If these reports are indeed accurate, then it is a temporary victory for the deep state staffers at Treasury and State who continue working tirelessly to preserve the Obama Iran deal, rather than implementing the president’s directive,” he continued. “I will continue to work towards permanently ending the nuclear deal, including by exercising Congress’s important oversight responsibility to ensure the implementation of United States policy.”
In May, Cruz sparred with Andrea Thompson, the U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, over nuclear waivers.
That same month, the United States extended five temporary civil nuclear waivers to 90 days, down from 180, while ending two others.
The waivers allow the signees to continue conducting nonproliferation work at the Bushehr, Arak and Fordow nuclear facilities.