US ends sanction waivers allowing Russian, Chinese and Europeans to work at Iran nuclear sites

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was ending waivers in its sanctions for nations that remain in the Iran nuclear accord, bringing the deal further to the brink of collapse.

Pompeo said he was responding to Iran’s brinkmanship of nuclear steps, which have been aimed at pressuring the United States to remove sanctions as called for by the 2015 deal.

“These escalatory actions are unacceptable and I cannot justify renewing the waiver,” Pompeo said in a statement.

The waivers, which expires on July 27, covered the conversion of Iran’s Arak heavy water research reactor, the provision of enriched uranium for its Tehran Research Reactor and the transfer of spent and scrap reactor fuel abroad.

The Trump administration until now had issued waivers for Russian, Chinese and European companies that are still present in Iran.

Pompeo said that the United States was issuing a final 60-day waiver to let companies involved in the projects to wrap up their operations.

Last year, Tehran said it will reduce compliance with the nuclear pact it agreed with world powers in 2015, in protest at the United States’ decision to unilaterally pull out of the agreement and reimpose sanctions.

The deal aimed to extend the amount of time it would take Iran to produce enough fissile material for an atomic bomb from several months to a minimum of one year.