President Donald Trump on Friday waived nuclear sanctions on Iran for what he described as the “last” time, while imposing a 120-day deadline for Congress and America’s European allies to strengthen the 2015 nuclear deal.
“Today, I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal. This is a last chance,” Trump said in a statement.
“In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately,” he said, adding, “No one should doubt my word. I said I would not certify the nuclear deal—and I did not. I will also follow through on this pledge.
If Trump had not signed the waiver on Friday, sanctions would have been automatically imposed, thereby essentially pulling the U.S. out of the Iran deal. But Trump came under heavy pressure from European allies and his own advisers to sign the waiver.
At the same time, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced sanctions on 14 Iranian individuals and entities, including the head of Iran’s judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani.
Friday’s waiver came 90 days after Trump announced last October that he was refusing to recertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. At the time, Trump vowed that his administration would not “continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout.”
Yet Trump’s refusal to recertify stopped short of pulling out of the accord and instead sent a decision to Congress regarding whether to reimpose sanctions that were originally lifted in 2016. Congress has not acted on any new legislation on Iran since Trump’s move last October.
Nevertheless, the Trump administration has been negotiating with U.S. lawmakers on changing sanctions legislation so that the president does not need to renew the nuclear pact every 90 days. The White House has also called on Congress to impose “trigger points” in the deal that would automatically renew sanctions.
Trump’s latest decision on Iran comes amid the recent anti-government protests in the Islamic Republic. Twenty-one people have been killed and thousands have been jailed during the demonstrations.