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Trump’s Ultimatum to Toughen Nuclear Deal Tests European Allies

President Donald Trump has given European allies an ultimatum to revamp the nuclear deal with Iran, something they don’t have any intention of doing, posing a possible new battle with other world leaders.

“Here is a last chance,” Trump pledged Friday in a statement declaring that he’d waived economic sanctions connected into the 2015 accord a last period: “No one should doubt my word. ”

Trump cautioned that he would scrap the agreement limiting Iran’s atomic program — an accord he’s long despised — unless European nations “unite together with the United States in fixing significant flaws in the offer. ” He effectively gave them a deadline of 120 days, the next time he’d have to decide under American law about whether to waive sanctions.

While European leaders didn’t instantly remark, they’ve made clear for months that they concur with international inspectors that Iran is abiding by constraints on its atomic program set out from the deal it made with all the U.S. under former President Barack Obama and five other world powers.

‘Desperate Attempts’

One of Trump’s requirements are the removal of sunset provisions in the agreement that will phase out many constraints on Iran’s atomic program in forthcoming years, and spelling out that Tehran’s atomic and ballistic-missile programs ought to be considered “inseparable. ” The atomic accord doesn’t immediately bar missile testing.

“at a nutshell, what’s he’s expression is &;#x2018;Kill the bargain with me or I’ll kill it independently,’” said Rob Malley, vice president for policy at the International Crisis Group who was Obama’s Middle East advisor. “My perception speaking to Europeans is, yes, they want to salvage the deal,” but imposing new demands on Iran can give it reason to drift away.

“Trump’s policy & today’s announcement amount to desperate attempts to undermine a strong multilateral agreement,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in a tweet on Friday. “Instead of replicating tired rhetoric, U.S. must bring itself into full compliance– like Iran. ”

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The president waived economic sanctions which were explicitly tied to Iran’s atomic program and were progressing under the accord. American legislation regulating those sanctions need the waivers to be revived every few months.

The Treasury Department also issued new sanctions against 14 individuals and entities involved with the nation’s ballistic missile programs and the authorities’s current crackdown on protesters.

‘Worst’ Deal

As a presidential candidate, Trump threatened to reevaluate what he’so-called “the worst deal. ” The previous time the agreement came up for review, in October, aides had to talk him from abandoning it completely.

Instead, Trump said then that he would give lawmakers a chance to amend the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, the 2015 bill which was passed as a way to impose a amount of congressional oversight over the agreement.

A key part of Trump’s strategy is that sanctions will be reimposed — or “snap” — automatically if Congress finds Iran to be violating the conditions of the accord. In effect, Trump’s proposal requires American lawmakers to take over judgments on Iran’s compliance with the atomic bargain from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“I’ve been warning about this for a year — that Trump is serious about walking away from the deal, and people like me who want to repair the deal rather than collapse it have to get our act together and get it fixed because there are fatal flaws,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of this Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who has advocated Iran sanctions and helped Congress write them.

However, Trump left a space to maneuver in his announcement. He didn’t say exactly what European allies must do beyond addressing the bargain’therefore defects, countering Tehran’s aggression and “supporting the Iranian people. ” Whether this must come in binding actions isn’t clear.

Discreet Talks

The U.S. was holding frequent, discreet discussions with European leaders about what’s second about the accord, which Iran attained with the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.

The allies originally held back from condemning Trump’s ultimatum.

“We have noted the White House announcement,” said a spokesman for the British embassy in Washington. “We’ll be discussing this with our European partners and with the USA and will react in detail in due course. ”

Lawmakers in Washington have divisions about how to proceed.

“I’m in favor of trying to tackle the agreement’s flaws,” Representative Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, said in a statement. “However, the way to do this is to engage with international partners and build momentum to negotiate new provisions. The wrong approach is to bully countries with arbitrary and unenforceable deadlines. ”

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