Trump changes tact, says US open to new Iran deal
05 November 2018
US president Donald Trump on Saturday said the US remained open to reaching a new, more comprehensive deal with Iran that effectively blocks its path to nuclear weapons, in a development that shows the United States is changing tact.
President Trump’s unilateral move to opt out of 2015 peace treaty with Iran has no supporters and other signatories to the nuclear pact have opposed the US move.
“Our objective is to force the regime into a clear choice,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House on Friday evening, referencing the resumption of sanctions today. “Either abandon its destructive behaviour or continue down the path toward economic disaster.”
The penalties were aimed at the Tehran government, “not at the long suffering Iranian people,” he added.
“For this reason,” Trump said, “we reiterate today that the sale of food, medicine, medical devices, and agricultural commodities to Iran has long been, and remains, exempt from the sanctions.”
President Trump’s move to abandon the Iran pact has also antagonised nations world over after he decided to go ahead with the sanctions plan, arguing that nations, banks and businesses worldwide will decide they’d rather do business with the US than Iran.
The administration’s strategy is to punish Iran, in fact, has turned into a punishment of all nations at a time when oil prices have started firming up again.
“The United States remains open to reaching a new, more comprehensive deal with Iran that forever blocks its path to a nuclear weapon, addresses the entire range of its malign actions, and is worthy of the Iranian people,” Trump said in the statement.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said earlier Friday that the U.S. would grant eight temporary waivers for countries to keep importing Iranian crude oil after sanctions snap back on Monday.
The decisions on waivers is part of the administration’s balancing act to get tough on the Iranian government while also trying to ensure that global oil prices don’t soar.
But Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have also had to fight a rearguard action against hard-liners in the administration including John Bolton, the national security adviser. Bolton has argued that the waivers — and a decision not to bar Iranian banks from the global Swift financial messaging system — were too generous toward Iran, according to a person familiar with the administration’s internal debate.
A senior administration official said Japan, India and South Korea were among those getting waivers. China — the leading importer of Iranian oil — is still in discussions with the US on terms, but is among the eight, according to two people familiar with the discussions who also asked not to be identified. Others could include Taiwan and Turkey.
The European Union as a whole won’t get a waiver, Pompeo said.
In a joint statement on Friday, the European Union’s high commissioner and the finance and foreign ministers from the UK, Germany and France said they “deeply regret the further re-imposition of sanctions by the United States.” They said they will work “to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran,” including preserving “effective financial channels” and continuing “Iran’s export of oil and gas.”