The Trump administration will extend sanctions relief for Iran for the second time, sources close the deal told the Reuters news agency on Thursday.
However, the sources stressed that the administration has yet to decide whether to preserve the deal that gave Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear program. Trump has criticized the deal, but some of his top advisers believe he should preserve it, Reuters said.
The deal, pushed by former US President Barack Obama and formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, provides for the US government to waive wide-ranging oil, trade and financial sanctions for periods of up to 120 days, so long as Tehran takes steps to dismantle its nuclear program.
The Obama administration renewed the waivers in mid-January and the Trump administration did so on May 17.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly railed against the deal, calling it the worst ever negotiated, and a “direct national security threat” which must be “stopped in Congress.”
The Iran deal poses a direct national security threat. It must be stopped in Congress. Stand up Republicans!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2015
International Atomic Energy Agency investigators and America’s own intelligence community say that the Iranians are holding up their end of the bargain.
But last month, shortly after he grudgingly certified the Islamic Republic as abiding by the deal, reports emerged that the president was directing his aides to develop a case for why the regime violated the agreement.
Trump also told The Wall Street Journal that he “does not expect that they will be in compliance.”
In the run-up to Thursday’s decision, more than 80 nuclear proliferation experts called for the nuclear deal to be preserved, according to Politico.
Signatories, including some former State Department officials, said they were “concerned by statements from the Trump administration that it may be seeking to create a false pretext for accusing Iran of noncooperation or noncompliance with the agreement in order to trigger the re-imposition of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.”
They added, “Abandoning the deal without clear evidence of an unresolved material breach by Iran that is corroborated by the other EU3+3 partners runs the risk that Tehran would resume some of its nuclear activities, such as enriching uranium to higher levels or increasing the number of operating centrifuges,” they wrote. “These steps would decrease the time it would take for Iran to obtain enough nuclear material for a warhead.”
On Tuesday, during a state visit to Argentina, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the nuclear deal should either be revised or abrogated altogether.
“In the case of Iran, there have been some news stories about Israel’s purported position on the nuclear deal with Iran,” he told a press conference, standing next to Argentine President Mauricio Macri.
“So let me take this opportunity and clarify: Our position is straightforward. This is a bad deal. Either fix it — or cancel it. This is Israel’s position.”
In February, the White House imposed a separate set of sanctions on Iran to punish Tehran for defying a United Nations Security Council resolution by testing a ballistic missile.