President Donald Trump's administration on Monday declared that Iran was complying with its nuclear agreement with world powers, but warned that Tehran was in default of the spirit of the accord and that Washington would look for ways to strengthen it.
Under U.S. law, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran's compliance with the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to make an announcement on Iran's nuclear agreement "very shortly". Earlier this year, Trump made the first such certification, and numerous reports have quoted White House officials saying he is likely to do so again.
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The official ticked off a list of accusations about Iranian behavior in the region, including ballistic missile development and proliferation, support for terrorism and militancy, complicity in atrocities committed in Syria and threats to Gulf waterways.
"We judge that these Iranian activities severely undermine the intent" of the agreement as a force for worldwide stability, one official said.
The Trump administration is likely to re-certify Iran's compliance with the nuclear weapons agreement, keeping a deal in place which the president has harshly criticized.
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Under the nuclear deal, Iran, which denied it was developing nuclear weapons, agreed to sharply limit the number and capability of centrifuges used to enrich uranium, give up almost all of its previously enriched stock, and submit to intrusive verification measures in exchange for an end to US and global sanctions related to the program. In return, Tehran won relief from punishing global economic sanctions. Iran, in exchange for adhering to the agreement negotiated in 2015 between itself, the United States, and global powers, gets sanctions relief. "On seven different occasions, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declared that Iran is entirely fulfilling its part of the deal", stated Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
In fact, the Trump administration's moves to ratchet up non-nuclear sanctions on Iran since taking office - along with legislation that recently passed the U.S. Senate to increase non-nuclear sanctions on Iran - "creates the impression in Iran that the United States' hostility toward Iran will never end", Zarif said.
Zarif said that for the United States "it's more important to maintain the sanctions that remain" on Iran "rather than remove the sanctions that have been lifted".
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Washington has said talks of easing sanctions would take place only if North Korea agrees to cease weapons proliferation. Figures show trade between China and the North totaled more than $2.5 billion during the first six months of 2017.
Other signatories to the nuclear deal - Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and the European Union - have indicated that they believe it is working.