Iran says nuclear deal with major powers not renegotiable

Sunday, 14 Jan, 2018

This fresh reprieve for the Iran agreement-which on the campaign trail Mr Trump called "the worst deal ever" and promised to tear up-highlights the dilemma faced by America's closest allies, notably in Europe. "No one should doubt my word".

European allies fear that there are few realistic prospects of the Iranian regime agreeing to Mr Trump's most urgent demands-namely, to make the bargain permanent rather than time-limited and to link fresh concessions, for instance involving inspections of Iranian nuclear sites, to "triggers" that would otherwise automatically cause sanctions to "snap back".

The next deadline to waive sanctions under the agreement is the middle of May. "Operating under an ultimatum leads to nothing", Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselbourn told Welt am Sonntag in Germany. Without it, you have a strong risk of Israeli military action against Iran's nuclear program and regional war.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, described Mr Trump's comments as "extremely negative".

Trump said that any legislation regarding Iran must demand global inspections when requested at all sites, must ensure Iran doesn't come close to possessing a nuclear weapon, must not have any expiration date and must state that long-range missile and nuclear weapons programs are inseparable. The nuclear accord doesn't directly bar missile testing. "I've never seen something so incompetently negotiated-and I mean never", Trump said during a Capitol Hill rally in September 2015. The sanctions, when they are in place, target third parties overseas that deal with Iran and have the effect - because of the reach of the USA dollar - of severely inhibiting trade with Iran.

"Trump's policy (and) today's announcement amount to desperate attempts to undermine a solid multilateral agreement", Zarif tweeted shortly after Trump's statement.

Iran's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that Iran will never renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as JCPOA, despite the USA pressures. Officials, congressional aides and outside administration advisers said the president would likely extend the sanctions waivers, citing progress in amending US legislation that governs Washington's participation in the accord.

Trump will next have to deal with these decisions in mid-May. The last time the agreement came up for review, in October, aides had to talk him out of abandoning it completely. The deal, negotiated by the Obama administration is centered exclusively on the Iranian's nuclear weapons program.

The president also wants the US Congress to amend a law on US participation in the nuclear deal, so that Washington can reimpose all sanctions if Iran breaches certain "trigger points". A decision to withhold a waiver would have effectively ended the deal that limits Iran's nuclear programme.

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

Still, Trump left some room to maneuver in his statement.

Iran has repeatedly said that the nuclear accord could not be renegotiated, including earlier Saturday when the Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Tehran would "accept no changes" to the deal and will not allow the accord to be linked to any non-nuclear issue. Whether that must come in binding action isn't clear.

In July 2015, after a decade of strenuous negotiations, Iran and six major countries, namely, China, Russia, Britain, France, the US and Germany, struck a final agreement on Iran's controversial nuclear programme.