Trump administration says Iran complying with nuclear deal but defying its spirit

The Trump administration will certify that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear agreement signed two years ago in Vienna, according to administration officials, but insisted that Tehran will face consequences for breaching “the spirit” of the deal.

President Trump, who lambasted the 2015 pact as a candidate, gave himself more time to decide whether to scuttle the agreement or let it stand. Senior administration officials, instead, sought to emphasize their concerns about Iran’s non-nuclear behavior and vowed that those transgressions won’t go unpunished.

In a shift from Trump’s previous threat to “rip up” the deal, officials said the administration was working with U.S. allies to try to fix the deal’s flaws, including the expiration of some nuclear restrictions after a decade or more. The officials also said the U.S. would slap Tehran with new sanctions penalizing it for developing ballistic missiles and other activity.

Senior administration officials say they will, in coordination with European allies, push for stronger interpretation and enforcement of the nuclear agreement and enact more sanctions in response to Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Trump called the nuclear agreement “the worst deal ever” during the 2016 campaign, but his administration has now certified Iran’s compliance twice. 

The officials say the U.S. is not pursuing regime change in Iran, but wants to stop its aggressive behavior.

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