US President Donald Trump has decided to extend sanctions relief for Iran for another 120 days, leaving the 2015 nuclear deal intact, a person familiar with the matter said.
According to the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Trump decided to extend sanctions relief after a meeting with his national security team, Bloomberg reported.
Trump had until Friday to decide whether to continue waiving 2012 sanctions that cut off Iran’s central bank from the global financial system, with a host of other, similar deadlines following over the next week. Letting the waivers lapse would have violated the 2015 agreement that Iran reached with world powers in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.
US president has repeatedly railed against the nuclear accord, calling it the "worst deal ever." In October, in a measure required every 90 days under US law, Trump declined to certify that the agreement was in US national security interests. Nevertheless, US allies including the U.K. and France have repeatedly defended the agreement and said Iran continues to comply with the accord.
Instead of backing out of the nuclear deal, Trump has previously said he was giving lawmakers a chance to amend the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, the 2015 bill that was passed as a way to impose a degree of congressional oversight over the nuclear agreement.
The director of the Roosevelt Fund of Study of the US at Moscow State University, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Yuri Rogulev, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that Trump did not end Washington's participation in the JCPOA, despite all the promises, because these promises were caused by emotions. "Trump's previous statements were hasty, because he considered all the treaties concluded by the previous administration to be bad. The Iran deal also got into this group of bad deals, as it was initiated and signed by the Obama administration. During the election campaign, Trump urged to reconsider the results of the previous administration's work, but when it came to the point, the US found itself in isolation - all the other participants in the Iranian deal, including the IAEA, confirmed that Iran complies with all its obligations. Therefore, now the US has made an attempt to save reputation," he explained.
At the same time, Iran remains the number one foreign policy target for the Trump administration. "Iran has been and remains the main adversary in the Middle East for the United States, as well as Israel. Washington will certainly not stop its efforts and continue to have an impact on Iran. Suffice it to say that despite the conclusion of an international treaty on Iran's nuclear program, only 30-40% of Iranian money abroad were unblocked. And the CIA and other structures will continue their secret operations in Iran," Yury Rogulev said.
A senior research fellow at the European Research Centre of the International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Olenchenko, in turn, agreed that all promises to reconsider the deal were just threats. "Often politicians' statements are made to insert political, psychological pressure on the other side. It is possible that Trump with his promises strove to stimulate the processes inside Iran, he clearly wanted to use the January protests as an excuse to reconsider the nuclear deal, but Washington failed to drive the protests in the right direction. At the same time, the US dealt with the firm position of Western Europe on maintaining the JCPOA in its current form," he said.
"However, the question arises of why the sanctions are suspended for only 4 months, and not six months, for example? I think this was due to the winter season when the demand for oil is high and Iran's revenues from oil exports are high. In April-May the demand in oil will decline and, apparently, the US hopes that Iran will be more flexible in bilateral contacts. And it is doubtful that during this time Washington will try to take any aggressive actions against Iran - this requires solid grounds, and this was usually done by the hands of other countries, Iraq or Saudi Arabia. I have deep doubts that the US will get involved in military operations against Iran," Vladimir Olenchenko concluded.