Iran says will retaliate against US sanctions on chief judge


WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump will keep the United States in the Iran nuclear pact for now, the White House announced Friday, at least temporarily settling speculation in the world's oil markets Iranian oil would fall again under U.S. sanctions.

Trump, he said, would agree to stay in the JCPOA if the agreement would "never expire" and would not entail direct negotiations with Iran, but only with the European partners only, all of which on Thursday stated their support for the JCPOA in meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Brussels.

The U.S. President Donald Trump once again had to extend waivers that are mandatory under the deal reached between Iran and world powers, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The announcement came as the US Treasury imposed sanctions on 14 Iranian individuals and companies, including the head of Iran's judiciary, over alleged human rights abuses.

"The Trump regime's hostile action [against Larijani] crossed all red lines of conduct in the international community and is a violation of international law and will surely be answered by a serious reaction from the Islamic Republic", Iran's Foreign Ministry statement read.

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

European powers have urged the United States not to walk away from the pact which was negotiated by the US and several European powers.

Germany has said it will continue to call for the deal's full implementation and will consult on a "common way forward" with the UK and France.

European signatories to the deal have urged the US to abide by the agreement, which Trump repeatedly has described it as "one of the worst" transactions ever entered into by the US.

Hillary Clinton, Trump's democratic rival during presidential campaign, commented on his remarks tweeting 'The anniversary of the devastating earthquake 8 years ago is a day to remember the tragedy, honor the resilient people of Haiti, & affirm America's commitment to helping our neighbors.

Moscow is undertaking measures to counteract the opponents' possible malicious influences on the Russian economy, he continued. "This is a last chance", he added.

Under the deal, Iran allows strict limits on its nuclear program in return for easing of economic sanctions. As it stands, Iran is currently allowed to enrich uranium to low grades unsuitable for weapons use.

Trump had faced a Friday deadline to decide on whether to waive the sanctions.

If Iran does not comply with any of these provisions, American nuclear sanctions would automatically resume.

Other sanctioned firms included another China-based company, Bochuang Ceramic Corp, and the Iranian firm it sought to supply with a chemical compound used in the transmission of electrical signals.