As officials had previously indicated, President Trump on Friday announced he is extending the sanctions relief the US is obliged to offer under the P5+1 nuclear deal, and some new unrelated sanctions against Iran have been unveiled. In an attempt to set the stage for another major political battle, he said this would be “the last time.”
The sanctions relief, and by extension US compliance with the P5+1 deal with Iran, will continue for an additional four months, by which time Trump demands that the rest of the world will have dramatically changed the deal to make it more palatable to him.
Trump’s demands include extending the restrictions on Iran’s civilian nuclear program permanently, and also wants to compel the European nations within the deal to accept US “snap-back” provisions to reimpose sanctions on Iran at any time the US declares them in violation. On top of that, President Trump wants to make clear that Iran’s missiles, even conventional missiles are “inseparable” from the nuclear deal.
All of these changes are almost certainly non-starters, with the rest of the P5+1 long saying they have no intention of trying to renegotiate a nuclear deal that was already hard enough to get done just to satisfy the latest US whim. It does, however, likely mean that in four months we’ll again be facing the question of whether the US intends to withdraw from the deal outright.
Trump has long said he wants to pull out of the deal, but has so far been talked out of it. Iran and the other P4+1 have been in intense talks for months about how they might keep the deal in place without US participation, and many believe they will ultimately be able to do so.
That possibility is likely to be a big deal if the world tries to call Trump’s bluff on the four month ultimatum, as he’s always been inclined to kill the deal, but would look foolish if he tried to kill the deal only to have it continue without US involvement, effectively removing the US from the nations involved in enforcement of the terms.