Here’s How Trump Could Kill The Iran Deal Without Pulling Out

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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The Trump administration’s increasing sanctions on Iran could cause the Islamic republic to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif painted new U.S. sanctions on Iran as a violation of the 2015 agreement, in a Tuesday interview with The New York Times. Zarif has previously cast any U.S. efforts at punishing Iran for its ballistic missile program or ongoing support for Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Syria as violations of the nuclear deal, indicating that the country may withdraw if it sees no increased economic benefit in the coming year.

Zarif to appeared to explicitly suggest that Iran may withdraw from the nuclear deal if the U.S. continues to sanction the regime and discourage Western investment, saying, “Iran has other options available, including withdrawing from the deal.”

Iran is unlikely to see any break in sanctions relief from the Trump administration that has made confronting Tehran’s malign influence a major platform of its foreign policy agenda. The new sanctions announced Tuesday simultaneously by the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Treasury target Iran’s ballistic missile program and paramilitary force.

The sanctions came despite confirmation from the U.S. that Iran was technically complying with the nuclear deal, but protests that it was “unquestionably” violating the spirit of the agreement with its ongoing nefarious activity. President Donald Trump is deeply skeptical of Iranian compliance with the spirit deal and nearly demurred on re-certifying it at the last minute Monday.

State Department spokesman Heather Naurt explained that the new sanctions would target “18 entities and individuals supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program and for supporting Iran’s military procurement or Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as an Iran-based transnational criminal organization and associated persons.”

Nauert also noted that the U.S. is undergoing an complete review of its regional strategy towards Iran, something Trump reportedly demanded in exchange for certifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal.

“During the course of this review, the United States will continue to aggressively counter Iran’s malign activities in the region,” Nauert declared, but conceded in the announcement that during the review the U.S. “will continue to comply with its commitments” under the nuclear agreement.

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Saagar Enjeti