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With deadline approaching, Trump may decide to 'rip up' Iran nuclear deal

14 January 2018

The European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany and France put on a united front to defend the accord after talks in Brussels with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The EU's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said the deal, denounced by Trump as the worst ever made, had in reality "made the world safer and prevented a potential nuclear arms race in the region".

European powers on Thursday insisted the 2015 deal to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions was working, as US President Donald Trump mulls reimposing sanctions on Tehran.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the worldwide agreement on Iran's nuclear program is working, and that while there are concerns about Iran's development of ballistic missiles and other activities in the Middle East, those should be dealt with as a separate issue. After talks in Moscow on Wednesday Zarif tweeted a warning.

Trump has been a harsh critic of the JCPOA, saying Iran got too much of a benefit while giving up too little.

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"We understand well that why the West, especially the U.S., are pursuing Iranophobia", Iranian defence minister Amir Hatami said, adding: "This is a total American story that says for the progress of America's economy, staging wars is inevitable".

Mr. Trump faces a January 12 deadline to extend waivers of broad oil and energy sector sanctions that were critical in getting Iran's commitment to the Obama-era accord.

Iran has been gripped by anti-government protests in recent weeks, leading the Islamic Republic to imprison thousands of people. In particular there is sympathy with the U.S. push to end the deal's "sunset clauses", which phase out restrictions on Iranian activities in the next decade.

The regime in Tehran could also complain to the European signatories to the deal, who support its continued implementation and have advised the Trump administration against tearing it up or making any changes to it - further driving a wedge between the USA and its historic European allies. "What will happens if President Trump does not waive the sanctions and go out of the deal?" the official asked. Not waiving the nuclear sanctions or reimposing them would effectively pull the United States out of the deal.

Under the terms of the deal, billions of dollars worth of oil and energy sanctions were dramatically eased on Iran in exchange for significant cuts to Iran's nuclear programs, cuts to be monitored by close United Nations inspections.

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"Given the importance of JCPOA these days, and in particular considering the USA destructive policies, based on talks we've had, we agreed to have a consultative meeting between Iran and the three European Union members", said Zarif, according to state broadcaster IRIB.

Mr. Trump's renewal of the waivers will likely be accompanied by new, targeted sanctions on Iranian businesses and people, the wire service reported. Within the week, the administration must also tell Congress whether Iran is complying with the major components of the nuclear deal.

Trump on January 12 is facing another quarterly deadline for certifying whether Iran is in compliance with the deal.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi, said at a weekly news conference in Tehran on Monday that if the Trump administration restored the sanctions, "all options for any situation are on the table for Iran", according to an account by the semiofficial Tasnim News Agency.

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With deadline approaching, Trump may decide to 'rip up' Iran nuclear deal