Iran calls fresh U.S. sanctions illegal, hostile

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Trump has constantly criticised the pact inked between the six world powers - China, Russia, Britain, France, the USA and Germany - and Iran in 2015, in which the West promised to relieve sanctions on Tehran in exchange for a halt in Iran's efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. The next sanctions waivers are due in May.

"I have outlined two possible paths forward: either fix the deal's disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw", Trump said.

The US still maintains sanctions on Iran - independent of the nuclear deal - on matters such as terrorism, human rights and ballistic missile development.

Trump's declaration puts great pressure on Britain, France and Germany, the European signatories to nuclear pact with Iran.

The other signatories to the deal - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russian Federation - and the European Union, which oversaw the talks, were watching carefully.

He said the idea of forming political coalitions, excluding others and considering those who are not with us as enemies had been imposed by the hegemonic powers on the world, adding that such ideas have directed the world toward enmity, extremism and conflicts, reports IRNA news agency. The Europeans, meanwhile, have said they are willing to discuss the matter with the USA but have shown little enthusiasm with Trump's hard line. JCPOA (the nuclear deal) is not renegotiable: "rather than repeating exhausted rhetoric, USA must bring itself into full compliance - just like Iran", Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on his Twitter account.

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The 14 Iranian individuals and entities sanctioned Friday include a notorious prison and members of the Islamic Republic's judiciary who have sentenced dissidents to death.

America's allies see the accord as the best way of thwarting Iran's quest for nuclear arms and a victory for multilateral diplomacy. Trump is also waiving other US penalties covered by the agreement, including on Iran's oil and gas sectors, which were up for renewal next week.

European allies had strongly urged the White House to stick with the nuclear deal, saying a decision to abandon it would strain the transatlantic partnership.

One of the criticisms levelled at the nuclear deal is that it does nothing to address Iran's continuing ballistic missile program and involvement in conflicts such as Yemen and Syria. The Treasury Department's action hits 14 Iranian officials and companies and businessmen from Iran, China and Malaysia, freezing any assets they have in the US and banning Americans from doing business with them.

"The nuclear deal is an internationally recognized and concluded pact and is not renegotiable", the Foreign Ministry in Tehran said in a statement Saturday.

"Today, I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies' agreement to fix the bad flaws of the Iran nuclear deal", he said in a statement.

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"And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately". "No one should doubt my word". Officials, congressional aides and outside administration advisers said had the president would likely extend the sanctions waivers, citing progress in amending US legislation that governs Washington's participation in the deal.

Washington policy hawks hailed Trump's decision, which they said would concentrate minds in Europe, where leaders have urged the U.S. president not to sabotage a deal they see as a landmark diplomatic success.

In his statement Friday, Trump said he remained open to revising the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, or INARA.

Republican Senator Bob Corker said "significant progress" had been made on bipartisan congressional legislation to address "flaws in the agreement without violating US commitments".

His ultimatum puts pressure on Europeans - key backers and parties to the 2015 worldwide agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program - to satisfy Mr Trump, who wants the pact strengthened with a separate agreement within 120 days.

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