Iran rejects Trump's call for changes to nuclear deal

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Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov criticised remarks by US President Donald Trump, who on Friday said the US will not reimpose nuclear sanctions on Iran for the moment, but would withdraw later this year unless the terms of the deal are changed.

Trump, who made his opposition to the 2015 agreement a cornerstone of his presidential election campaign, said he would use the next four months "to secure our European allies' agreement to fix [its] awful flaws". Trump wants them to help the USA devise a new agreement created to prevent Iran from escalating nuclear activity again next decade, as permitted under the 2015 arrangement reached by President Barack Obama.

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

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

The White House wants European Union signatories to agree permanent restrictions on Iran's uranium enrichment. Iran must allow "immediate inspections at all sites requested by global inspectors", he said, and "sunset" provisions imposing limits on Iran's nuclear program must not expire.

Trump has repeatedly denounced the nuclear agreement negotiated by his predecessor and in October declined to certify that it's in the interests of the US.

"High-level" enrichment of 20-percent is used for nuclear medicines, but also leaves only a small amount of work to get to the 90-percent level needed for a nuclear weapon. Washington also imposed sanctions on the head of Iran's judiciary and others.

"Our biggest priority is to maintain the JCPOA, but of course not at any price", he added.

Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo elected as CM Balochistan
Born in 1974, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid first became a lawmaker in 2002 and remained Deputy Speaker from 2013-15. The political crisis began with Bizenjo submitting a no-confidence motion against the chief minister on January 2.

"The United States will not stand by while the Iranian regime continues to engage in human rights abuses and injustice", Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement. "We are targeting the Iranian regime, including the head of Iran's judiciary, for its appalling mistreatment of its citizens, including those imprisoned exclusively for exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and for censoring its own people as they stand up in protest against their government".

The pact is underpinned on the US side by a presidential waiver of nuclear-related sanctions on Iran's central bank.

The waiver he will sign suspends sanctions for another 120 days, but he warned that if a new agreement was not made "the United States will not again waive sanctions".

Trump has argued behind the scenes that the nuclear deal makes the United States look weak, a senior USA official said.

Referring to Mr Trump's threats to scrap the nuclear deal, the statement said Iran "will not accept any amendments in this agreement, be it now or in the future, and it will not allow any other issues to be linked to the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]".

Had Trump chose to re-impose sanctions on Iran, it would have been a violation of the nuclear deal.

"We are gradually coming to the conclusion that an internal decision by the USA to leave the JCPOA has already been made or is close to being made", Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency.

"In what we heard yesterday, I don't see any invitation for Iran to enter dialogue", he said.

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