Trump switches from ‘maximum pressure’ policy to waivers for Iran nuke program

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported the latest development between Washington and Tehran, with US president Donald Trump approving sanction waivers to be provided to the five nuclear programs of Iran. The decision would officially be announced towards the end of this week.

It has created rift within the US administration as some sided Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decision, including Trump, to provide sanction waivers while others including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton strongly opposed the move.

The Post mentioned that Mnuchin warned Trump against cancelling waivers, as required by the treaty by August 1. Mnuchin said that in no-waivers scenario US would have to impose sanction on Russian, Chinese and European firms who are supporting Iran’s nuclear projects, which were established as part of the 2015 nuclear deal.

By providing waivers, Treasury Department indirectly bought more time to deeply understand the possible impact of the sanctions, if imposed on Russian, Chinese and European companies

A senior official of the department told Post, “We still have the goal of ending these waivers. These waivers can be revoked at any time, as developments with Iran warrant. But because of the Treasury Department’s legitimate concerns, we’ve decided to extend them for now.”

This temporary fix provides Iranian nuke projects another 90 days of respite from the US sanctions. The move was much appreciated by China, Russian and European powers who are part of the deal. The other members nations of the treaty have been trying to save deal to mitigate the impact of Washington-Tehran tensions on global trade.

The treaty came into being in July 2015, as Iran traded barring its nuclear activities with getting some sanctions lifted as a respite for its battered economy. It also agreed to enrich uranium only to lower levels and not store more than 300kg.

In May 2018, US President Donald Trump quit the deal, saying that Tehran was “not living up to the spirit” of the treaty, and reimposed sanctions. The US sanctions bar not only US companies from doing business with Iran, but also prevents non-US organizations from undertaking any commercial activity with Iran.

On July 17, fifty US Senate members led by Representative Liz Cheney, wrote to Trump to take back the sanction waivers once and for all. The lawmakers criticized the waivers for they provide legitimacy to Iran’s illegal nuclear activists. The two nations have been at loggerheads since the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports in May, which crippled its economy. Tehran retaliated by accelerating its nuclear activities and acts of Piracy in Strait of Hormuz, the most crucial international oil shipping route.

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