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Ahead of sanctions deadline, Obama officials urge Trump to uphold Iran deal

15 September 2017

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is consulting USA allies in Europe as he seeks a way to toughen restrictions on Iran's nuclear program a month before President Donald Trump faces a deadline to decide whether to walk away from what he's called "the worst deal ever".

However, later in the day, Trump derided the deal as "one of the worst" he'd ever seen.

Rouhani says the not complying with the agreement, but insists his government remains committed to it.

The secretary's hardline stance comes weeks before the Trump administration must decide whether it will certify Iranian compliance with the deal to the U.S. Congress. Former President Barack Obama's administration, which negotiated the deal, did so in mid-January and Trump's administration did so again on May 17.

The three former Obama administration officials also said the deal is nearly impossible to renegotiate unless the USA could give Iran some new concessions or incentives, an idea Trump seems to oppose. He also told The Wall Street Journal that he "does not expect that they will be in compliance".

"If the country (Iran) is supposed to continue [to implement the nuclear deal] with the other five countries [Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany], it will be in a way that our interests is protected", he noted.

According to what has been announced by Western news outlets, the UN General Assambly will be held in NY next week and Trump will meet with leaders of France and Britain to supposedly ask them to talk Germany into calling for renegotiation of the nuclear deal. White House and Pentagon officials are deeply concerned about the potential risks of Iranian retaliation against thousands of USA troops deployed in Iraq and Syria who are in close proximity to Tehran-backed militia.

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The recent focus of those against the deal seems to be on Iran's military sites, with critics saying inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are failing to routinely inspect them along with Iran's declared nuclear facilities. That would very likely shift the focus to Tehran - and to Congress, which could move to impose new sanctions on Iran.

"I think the Iranians, many of us have talked with them in different venues since the agreement, and they certainly follow what happens here quite closely".

If America is seen as purposely sabotaging the agreement, Kahl said it would provide "lots of ammunition for Iranian hardliners to bludgeon Rouhani, discredit reformists and pragmatists within the Iranian system". "As Secretary Tillerson has just said, the Iranians have got to behave and fulfill their side of the bargain".

The Trump White House's threats to dismantle the JCPOA are tremendously risky for the US and the entire world.

People familiar with internal discussions said Haley's team didn't work out her speech with Tillerson and his team in advance.

"Under the law, Congress then has 60 days to consider whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran", Haley told the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

With assistance from Jonathan Tirone Helene Fouquet Thomas Penny Katharina Rosskopf and Kambiz Foroohar.

Ahead of sanctions deadline, Obama officials urge Trump to uphold Iran deal