The Trump government is ready to renew the exemptions that allow Iran to obtain international support for civilian nuclear projects after three sources familiar with the matter fiercely engaged in an internal debate over whether a key element of the nuclear agreement is from 2015 should be reduced.
With a setback for the Iranian hawks, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other government officials seemed to have the upper hand in the political confrontation with national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, sources NBC News said.
Proponents of retention of exemptions warned that the US could be forced to impose sanctions on Russian, Chinese and European companies that help nuclear work in Iran. 1
Exemptions for five nuclear plants in Iran expire on Thursday and a government announcement is expected later this week.
The State Department refused to comment on Tuesday night, and the White House was not immediately available for comment.
The exemption retention plan was first reported by the Washington Post.
President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran-the World Powers nuclear agreement called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, last year. However, since then, government officials have continued to think about how far it should go to launch a "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran.
The underlying argument that emerged in the White House in the past year depends on whether the United States would have more influence on future talks with Iran if they completely dismantled the 2015 agreement or if It would be better to keep the agreement as a starting point for negotiations, say US officials.
Proponents of Holding Liberation for "Best" One way to position yourself for a new deal is to maintain the old deal in the meantime, "a source said. "There is an active group in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Energy that insists on keeping the JCPOA's hull alive."
Britain, France and Germany had asked the White House to extend the exemptions The interest of the United States and Europe to ensure that Iran adheres to the plan to rebuild various nuclear sites for civilian purposes.
Bolton and National Security Council officials disagree with maintaining the nuclear declarations allowed to preserve their nuclear infrastructure with the help of the outside world.
They also downplay the possibility that the US would impose sanctions on Russian, Chinese or European companies involved in the Iranian nuclear program. They cite a May administrative decision prohibiting two forms of international aid to Iran's nuclear activities between Oman and Russia. In both cases, the two countries ceased their cooperation and Washington did not have to impose sanctions on the US.
Congressional Iran Falcons, including 50 Republican House Representatives and Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Marco Rubio of Florida, had urged that the waivers be lifted. At some point, they seemed to have the upper hand in the administrative discussions earlier this month, sources said.
But Trump seemed to come to Mnuchin's view in recent days, much to the frustration of the proponents of a hard line Iran inside and outside the government.
"There were a hundred ways to repudiate these nuclear declarations responsibly," a US official familiar with the course of the debate said save the nuclear deal. So now we have a situation where they have humiliated President Trump in this round and prepared for a diplomatic crisis in the fall, "the official said as the new exemptions expired.
The exemptions allowed Iran will receive aid from countries that have joined the nuclear agreement to operate several nuclear sites for civilian purposes, including the conversion of a heavy water reactor in Arak and the conversion of a former uranium enrichment facility near Fordow into a medical isotope research center. In particular, the exemptions for Arak and Fordow have been criticized by Republican legislators and other opponents of the 2015 agreement.
The US has also granted exemptions for Iran, with Russian support and an investigation, to operate its only nuclear reactor in Bushehr reactor in Tehran for the production of medical isotopes.
The Trump government renewed the civil nuclear exemption regulations for a period of 90 days in May after previously granting exemptions for 180 days. The US State Department initially justified the exemption by saying that Iran could not carry out any nuclear-related work.
The US State Department declined to comment. The White House was not immediately available for comment.