WASHINGTON, U.S. - U.S. President Donald Trump is widely expected to continue to suspend key sanctions on Iran, eventually avoiding jeopardizing the 2015 nuclear agreement.
According to U.S. officials, Trump is expected to set a deadline for Congress and European allies to improve the deal or the U.S. will abandon it.
Further, a top aide was quoted as saying that the U.S. President is also likely to impose a new set of sanctions targeting Iranian firms and individuals.
For months since the start of his presidency, Trump has strongly criticized the nuclear deal struck between top world powers, which helped end a long crisis.
In October, Trump declared that the agreement was “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the U.S. has ever entered into.”
Trump even warned that within a few years, Iran would be able to "sprint towards a rapid nuclear weapons breakout.”
At the time, he accused Iran of committing "multiple violations" and promised to work with Congress to "address the deal's many serious flaws.”
Trump subsequently said they included the deal's "sunset clauses,” which allows for the lifting of restrictions on Iran's uranium enrichment programme after 2025.
Further, Trump also wants to give the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to Iranian military sites, and for the deal to cover Iran's ballistic missile programme.
The Iran nuclear deal was struck between six global powers and saw decades of international and U.S. nuclear-related sanctions suspended when Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme.
While Trump’s decision remains unclear, European powers have maintained that the accord is vital for international security.
On Thursday, foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany and the European Union met their Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Brussels.
These leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the accord, that has also received the backing of China and Russia.
Addressing a news conference soon after, representatives from the EU, the U.K., France and Germany reiterated their support for the nuclear deal that they helped negotiate.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said, "The deal is working; it is delivering on its main goal, which means keeping the Iranian nuclear programme in check and under close surveillance. The unity of the international community is essential to preserve a deal that is working, that is making the world safer and that is preventing a potential nuclear arms race in the region. And we expect all parties to continue to fully implement this agreement."
Meanwhile, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson insisted the deal was preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and challenged Washington to come up with a better alternative.
He even described the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a "considerable diplomatic accomplishment.”
Meanwhile, Zarif warned that Iran's continued compliance depended on Washington honouring the deal.
Zarif pointed out that the Brussels meeting had shown a "strong consensus" that Iran was complying with the pact, had the right to enjoy its economic benefits and that any move that undermined it was "unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, apart from the deal, the U.S. still maintains separate sanctions on Iran, which is related to a wide number of issues, including terrorism, human rights and the country’s ballistic missile development.
On Friday, the White House is due to make an official announcement on the deal.
The global nuclear body, IAEA said in its recent quarterly review that Iran was complying with the treaty.
However, critics of the deal in the U.S. Congress have proposed amending legislation to ensure that sanctions would "snap back" automatically if Iran carried out certain actions.
These sanctions were suspended in 2016 and had led to cut Iran's central bank out of the international financial system and imposed penalties for buying Iranian oil.
According to the U.S. and EU, Iranian ballistic missile tests conducted in the past year have violated UN Security Council resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal.
As part of the resolution, Iran cannot "undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
Iran has said that the missiles it has tested are not designed to carry nuclear warheads and insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.