Approves sanctions waiver; wants Congress to include more ‘trigger points’ in the agreement

U.S. President Donald Trump gave the Iran nuclear deal a final reprieve on Friday but warned European allies and Congress that they had to work with him to fix “the disastrous flaws in the pact or face a U.S. exit”.

The ultimatum puts pressure on Europeans — key backers and parties to the 2015 international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear programme — to satisfy Mr. Trump, who wants the pact strengthened with a separate agreement within 120 days.

“Despite my strong inclination, I have not yet withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “Instead, I have outlined two possible paths forward: either fix the deals disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Twitter that the deal was not renegotiable and that Mr. Trump’s stance “amounts to desperate attempts to undermine a solid multilateral agreement”.

The EU said in a statement it had taken note of Mr. Trump’s decision and would assess its implications.

Underscoring the difficulty now facing Europeans, a European diplomat said: “It’s going to be complicated to save the deal after this.”

While Mr. Trump approved the sanctions waiver, the Treasury Department announced new, targeted sanctions against 14 entities and people, including the head of Iran’s judiciary, Sadeq Amoli Larijani, a close ally of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Mr. Trump now will work with European partners on a follow-on agreement that enshrines certain triggers that the Iranian regime cannot exceed related to ballistic missiles, said senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the decision.

One senior administration official said Mr. Trump would be open to remaining in a modified deal if it were made permanent.

“I hereby call on key European countries to join with the United States in fixing significant flaws in the deal, countering Iranian aggression, and supporting the Iranian people,” Mr. Trump said in the statement.

Republican Senator Bob Corker said “significant progress” had been made on bipartisan congressional legislation to “address the flaws in the agreement without violating U.S. commitments”.

End to sunset provisions

Mr. Trump laid out several conditions to keep the United States in the deal. Iran must allow “immediate inspections at all sites requested by international inspectors”, he said, and “sunset” provisions imposing limits on Iran’s nuclear programme must not expire. Mr. Trump said U.S. law must tie long-range missile and nuclear weapons programmes together, making any missile testing by Iran subject to “severe sanctions”.

The President wants Congress to modify a law that reviews U.S. participation in the nuclear deal to include “trigger points” that, if violated, would lead to the United States reimposing its sanctions, the official said.

This would not entail negotiations with Iran, the official said, but rather would be the result of talks between the United States and its European allies. Work already has begun on this front, the official said. Two EU diplomats said EU Foreign Ministers will discuss what to do now at their next regular meeting, scheduled for January 22 in Brussels.