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Trump Administration Continues Sanctions Relief For Iran Under Nuclear Deal

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Today President Trump once again called the Iran nuclear deal one of the worst deals he's ever seen, yet he met a deadline that's part of the deal to renew sanction waivers on Iran's oil and banking sectors. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, Trump paired the move with new sanctions.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: One critic of the Iran deal describes it as a waive-and-slap strategy. That is, the Trump administration is continuing to waive the sanctions it has to under the Iran nuclear deal but slapping on new ones, like several today targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies likes the approach.

MARK DUBOWITZ: I think everybody agrees whether you support the deal or not that the Revolutionary Guards are the most dangerous actor both inside Iran with respect to internal repression and outside Iran.

KELEMEN: But Dubowitz expects the Trump administration will go further and look for ways to, in his words, fix the nuclear deal. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says U.S. policy is under review.

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REX TILLERSON: President Trump has made it clear to those of us who are helping him develop this policy that we must take into account the totality of Iranian threats, not just Iran's nuclear capabilities. That is one piece.

KELEMEN: He points out that the preface of the nuclear deal says it would contribute to regional and international peace.

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TILLERSON: In our view, Iran is clearly in default of these expectations.

KELEMEN: But international inspectors say Iran has been abiding by the deal which required Iran to make deep cutbacks in its nuclear program. It may be hard for the Trump administration to get others on board to renegotiate the parts the U.S. doesn't like. In London today, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told Tillerson he wants to make this deal work.

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BORIS JOHNSON: We in the U.K. want to keep that alive. And that's certainly a point that we've been making to Rex and others in the U.S.

KELEMEN: He says Iranians should behave better but also need to see some economic benefits of keeping up their end of the bargain. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.