The Trump administration is expected to extend another round of temporary waivers on Thursday to permit countries part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to conduct civil nuclear projects with the regime, despite pressure from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, US National Security Advisor John Bolton and Iran hawks on Capitol Hill.
The Washington Post and Politico first reported the expected announcement.
According to the Post, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin convinced Trump that if the sanctions weren’t waived, the United States would be required to sanction European, Chinese and Russian companies involved in Iran’s nuclear projects.
“We still have the goal of ending these waivers,” a senior administration official told the Post. “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.”
The United States withdrew in May 2018 from the nuclear accord, reimposing sanctions lifted under it along with enacting new financial penalties against the regime.
“The revocation of select civil nuclear cooperation waivers is an important measure of both the administration’s nuclear policy and its dedication to the max pressure campaign against Iran,” Foundation for the Defense of Democracies senior fellow Behnam ben Taleblu told Politico. “It makes little sense to reward Iran with all these waivers as it engages in activities that are clear violations of the JCPOA.”
Republican lawmakers, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, have called for the end of the waivers.
“Mr. President, your maximum pressure campaign on Iran is working,” wrote 50 US lawmakers in a July letter to Trump, led by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). “To continue your successful strategy, we must renew all US and international sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program.”
Cruz’s congressional office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In May, Cruz sparred with Andrea Thompson, the US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, over nuclear waivers.
That same month, the United States extended five temporary civil nuclear waivers to 90 days, down from 180, while ending two others.
The waivers allow the signees to continue conducting non-proliferation work at the Bushehr, Arak and Fordow nuclear facilities.