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WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Friday he was keeping alive the Iran nuclear deal by waiving sanctions for a third time. He, however, pointed out that he would end the agreement unless it was amended to permanently block a potential outlet to build nuclear weapons.

“Despite my strong inclination, I have not yet withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal. Instead, I have outlined two possible paths forward: either fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw,” Mr Trump said in a statement issued by the White House.

The US media noted that Mr Trump’s decision avoided placing the United States immediately in violation of the commitments it made in the 2015 deal.

Says US is supporting the ‘brave’ Iranian citizens who are demanding change

Last October, Mr Trump outlined a strategy for confronting what he described as Iran’s destructive activities, which included countering pro-Iranian forces in Yemen and Syria and also sanctioned nearly 100 individuals and entities involved with the Iran’s ballistic missile programme and its other illicit activities.

On Friday, he added 14 more to the sanctions list and outlined his support for anti-government protests in Iran.

“We are also supporting the brave Iranian citizens who are demanding change from a corrupt regime that wastes the Iranian people’s money on weapons systems at home and terrorism abroad,” he said. “And crucially, we are calling on all nations to lend similar support to the Iranian people.”

President Trump accused Iran of supporting Hezbollah, Hamas, and many other militant groups, claiming that Tehran had “funded, armed and trained more than 100,000 militants to spread destruction across the Middle East”. He also claimed that his predecessor President Barack Obama had turned a blind eye as Iran built and tested dangerous missiles and “curried favour with the Iranian regime in order to push through the disastrously flawed Iran nuclear deal”.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2018