The Trump administration is expected to continue allowing Russian, Chinese and European companies to keep operating at Iranian nuclear facilities despite U.S. sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, a source familiar with the decision told JNS on Tuesday.

The United States has continuously extended the civilian nuclear waivers under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal since withdrawing from in May 2018 despite reimposing sanctions lifted under it, along with enacting new financial penalties against the regime as part of what the administration has called a “maximum pressure” campaign.

The deadline to extend the waivers, which have lasted 90 days, is Saturday. They affect the Arak and Bushehr facilities, and the Tehran Research Reactor, where the fuel is provided by Russia, which also removes the facility’s spent fuel after it’s used in the reactor.

The nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers allowed Tehran to continue its nuclear program within certain limits in exchange for lifting of economic sanctions.

The upcoming round of waiver extensions will last 60 days, according to Bloomberg, which also reported on Tuesday that the administration will impose new sanctions on Iran’s atomic energy agency and its chief Ali Akbar Salehi.

Republicans on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), have previously objected to waivers being extended and are likely do so were there to be another extension.

However, in November, the United States canceled a sanctions waiver to allow research at the Fordow nuclear facility. It took effect last month.

The move came as Iran announced and the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that the regime resumed uranium enrichment at Fordow, which is underground, in violation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

“Some want the waivers ended because Iran should not have fissile-material production capabilities supported in any way by international assistance, but it is unclear how we get to the closure of those facilities in the absence of a replacement deal,” Andrea Stricker, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS.

Robert Einhorn, who served as the U.S. Department of State special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control in the Obama administration, told JNS, “revoking remaining waivers would not mark the complete withdrawal of the U.S. from the JCPOA. The U.S. has already completely withdrawn. It no longer considers itself bound by any of its commitments.

“Sanctions against dealing with Iran’s nuclear organizations are U.S. sanctions. In the absence of sanctions waivers, foreign entities (e.g., Chinese, Russian, British) cooperating with Iran’s nuclear organizations on JCPOA-mandated projects (e.g., converting the Arak heavy water reactor) would be subject to sanctions,” he continued. “So revoking remaining waivers could put an end to those projects, which serve important nonproliferation goals, and drive another nail into the JCPOA’s coffin.”

The White House National Security Council referred JNS to the U.S. State and Treasury Departments, neither of which responded to a request for comment.

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