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    Unidentified International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors (2nd-3rd L) and Iranian technicians disconnect the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium production at nuclear power plant of Natanz, some 300 kilometres south of Tehran on January, 20, 2014.

    Obama Puts His Own Iran Nuclear Deal in Jeopardy by Doubling Down on Sanctions

    © AFP 2017/ KAZEM GHANE / IRNA
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    On Friday, President Obama extended US sanctions against Iran, explaining that in spite of its commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal, Tehran continues to pose "an unusual and extraordinary threat" to Washington. Irritated by the outgoing president's move, Tehran will soon have to face Donald Trump and his threats to shred the nuclear deal entirely.

    Obama signed extensions of seven different sanctions programs targeting six countries and non-state actors on Friday, including Iran, Russia, Cuba, Libya, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. 

    Obama explained his decision to keep sanctions in place in a letter to Congressional leaders, saying that in spite of the fact that Tehran has met its commitments under the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, "irrespective of [that deal]…certain actions and policies of the government of Iran continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States."

    "For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared with respect to Iran, and to maintain in force comprehensive sanctions against Iran to respond to this threat," the President added.

    The landmark Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was adopted in July 2015 following negotiations involving Iran, the US, Russia, China, France, the UK and Germany. The agreement promised Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for commitments not to pursue nuclear weapons technology.

    (L-R) China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and US Secretary of State John Kerry pose for a picture during the final press conference of Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria on July 14, 2015
    © AFP 2017/ JOE KLAMAR
    (L-R) China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and US Secretary of State John Kerry pose for a picture during the final press conference of Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria on July 14, 2015

    In December, US lawmakers voted to extend anti-Iranian sanctions, leading to complaints from Tehran that Washington was violating its obligations under the nuclear deal. In early December, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged Obama to block the extension of the sanctions. "If this law is implemented, it will be a blatant violation of the Iran deal and will lead to our resolute response," he said.

    Hopes emerged last month that Obama would not sign any additional anti-Iranian legislation before leaving office, after a White House spokesman said that the president wouldn't sign any legislation "that would undermine the ability of the international community to continue to successfully implement the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

    In response to the US lawmakers' efforts, Iran's parliament called on Rouhani's government to take 'reciprocal action' against the US. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned that Iran may suspend implementation of the deal, and Tehran informed the UN that it considered the US to have violated the agreement.

    Since then, President Rouhani has ordered Iranian nuclear scientists to begin work on developing nuclear-powered ships for Iran's Navy. Last week, Iranian lawmakers approved a more than two-fold increase in the country's military budget, including additional spending on conventionally-armed long-range missiles.

    In spite of Congressional and White House efforts to prolong anti-Iranian sanctions, the Obama Administration has continued warning Congress and President-elect Trump not to cancel  the nuclear deal, saying that the US will face "grave consequences" if they do so.

    With the Iran deal threatened, possibly the sole major achievement of President Obama's international peace efforts faces the prospect of collapse, particularly as the new administration prepares to take office. On the campaign trail, President-elect Trump repeatedly slammed the Iran nuclear agreement, calling it a "terrible deal" and "the worst deal ever negotiated." At the same time, the Republican-controlled Congress would be likely to support Trump if he were to make the decision, given that they tried to block it after it was signed back in 2015.

    However, international relations expert Rajan Menon says that Trump tearing up the deal should not be seen as a foregone conclusion. "After all," he wrote, Trump has "also said that he'd consider renegotiating its terms to ensure that it meets his (unspecified) standards."

    For instance, the academic recalled, in 2015, Trump told the panel at MSNBC's Morning Joe that while the Iran deal was "a horrible contract," he wasn't firmly committed to tearing it up as president. "I'd love to tell you I'm going to rip up this contract; I'm going to be the toughest guy in the world. But you know what? Life doesn't work that way." 

    Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani attends Iran's Assembly of Experts biannual meeting in Tehran. (File)
    © AFP 2017/ Raheb Homavandi
    "His solution back then: make sure Iran fulfills its part of the bargain," Menon explained. And Trump's advisors and supporters, from Walid Phares to General James Mattis to Senator Bob Corker, have made similar arguments, the expert added.

    Furthermore, "even if [Trump abandoned the deal], Europe, China and Russia wouldn't follow suit, which would mean that their companies, not American ones, would reap the benefits of doing business with Iran," Menon noted. US companies like Boeing, which signed a $17 billion deal with Tehran last month, would be forced to "forfeit such opportunities."

    "Would Trump, who presents himself as the ultimate dealmaker and vows to create millions of jobs in the United States, really like to take credit for that?" the academic asked. Ultimately, he said, while it was almost certain that relations between Washington and Tehran would get considerably worse under Trump, the nuclear deal is not necessarily the thing to focus on. 

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    • avatar
      jas
      Liar!!
    • avatar
      jas
      January 20 can't get here soon enough. Prayer until Friday and celebration on Saturday.
    • avatar
      orfano
      By doubling the sanctions on the Iranian people, he will be depriving them to suffer from lack of medication, and thus increasing fatal deseases in the country. Only for this spitful action, Obama should be clearly classified as a war criminal. The whole world knows he is a LIAR!!!!
    • avatar
      jas
      Obama has already shred the nuclear deal and is still claiming it as a success of his legacy.
    • avatar
      marcanhalt
      Recently, I heard someone describe Obama as being "canny". When pressed for details, the speaker could not readily define what he meant. He did smile, however, and say that he had heard that when Obama knew that it was Trump that had won the election, that he tried to strangle himself with a cordless phone. That comment preempted the question as to whether or not Obama suffered from serious delusions of adequacy. And that evening was only getting warmed up...
    • avatar
      kooka
      This new sanctions on Iran or Cuba are another prove that a treaty with the wvc ( western values community) isn' t even worth the paper on which they are printed
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