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13 January, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 13 January, 2018 02:04:07 AM
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Trump waives Iran nuclear sanctions for last time

White House hails drop in Chinese trade with N Korea
AFP
Trump waives Iran nuclear sanctions for last time

US President Donald Trump grudgingly agreed not to reimpose nuclear sanctions on Iran yesterday, but officials warned that it would be the last time he issues such a waiver, reports AFP. Instead, a senior White House official said, Trump wants Washington's European allies to use the 120-day period before some sanctions relief again comes up for renewal to agree on tougher measures. At the same time as the renewed waiver was announced, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on 14 Iranian figures and companies, including the head of the country's judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani.

"The president's decision is to waive once more the nuclear sanctions that the terms of the JCPOA require the United States to waive in order to remain in the deal," the White House official said.

"But in his statement, the president will also make clear that this is the last such waiver that he will issue."

The official said that Trump now wants to work with America's European allies -- who all urged him to remain within the accord -- to develop a new agreement to replace the Iran deal.

Tehran would not be involved in these discussions, as it was prior to the signing of the 2015 accord, but would be subject to US and European sanctions if it breaks the terms of the new arrangement.

The new deal, the official said, would be permanent and would not begin to expire after a decade as was the case in the 2015 accord. It would target Iran's missile program and not simply its nuclear industry, and it would mandate UN inspections of Iranian sites.

"If the president can get that agreement that meets his objective and it never expires, it denies Iran all paths to nuclear weapons forever, not for ten years, he would be open to remaining in such a modified deal," the official said.

Meanwhile, the White House yesterday welcomed news of a sharp drop in Chinese trade with North Korea, saying it would help put pressure on the regime of Kim Jong-Un. China reported earlier that its imports from North Korea plunged 33 percent last year -- and 81.6 percent in December.

President Donald Trump's "administration is pleased that China is sharply reducing its trade with North Korea," the White House said.

"This action supports the United States-led global effort to apply maximum pressure until the North Korean regime ends its illicit programs, changes its behavior, and moves toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," it said in a statement.

Trump has leaned heavily on China to use its economic clout to rein in North Korea, but Kim has shown no sign of halting Pyongyang's race to become a nuclear power capable of striking the United States.

In 2017, it conducted tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the United States as well as its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.

After months of soaring tensions, North Korea agreed this week to send athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, in what was seen as a potential sign of a cooling-off period.

The United States and South Korea reciprocated by calling off military exercises during the Olympics.

On Wednesday, Trump told South Korean President Moon Jae-In the United States was open to holding talks with North Korea "under the right circumstances," according to the White House.

But White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the two leaders, who spoke by telephone, also "underscored the importance of continuing the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea."

On Thursday, Trump suggested in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he could have a good relationship with Kim, though he left vague the extent of his dealings with the North Korean leader.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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