Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Wednesday the U.S. will end all sanction waivers that allowed Chinese, European and Russian companies to work with Iranian nuclear sites without coming under U.S. sanctions.
“Today, I am ending the sanctions waiver for JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]-related projects in Iran, effective in 60 days,” Pompeo said in a Tweet Wednesday. “Iran’s continued nuclear escalation makes clear this cooperation must end. Further attempts at nuclear extortion will only bring greater pressure on the regime.”
The United Nations Security Council has argued the JCPOA was necessary to ensure nuclear nonproliferation in Iran and to stabilize the region as a whole. The waivers allowed other countries and companies to work with Iran to modify the existing nuclear facilities and ensure compliance with nuclear nonproliferation strategies.
But the administration believed Iran was ramping up its nuclear proliferation efforts.
“The regime’s nuclear extortion will lead to increased pressure on Iran and further isolate the regime from the international community,” Pompeo said in a statement Wednesday.
Nonproliferation experts believe that by removing the waivers, Iran will have a greater ability to enrich its nuclear program.
Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation with policy at the Arms Control Association, wrote in a tweet, “Ending waivers for cooperative projects jeopardizes US nonproliferation priorities & hands Iran a justification to ratchet up certain nuclear activities limited by the #IranDeal.”
“The Iranian regime has continued its nuclear brinkmanship by expanding proliferation-sensitive activities,” Pompeo said.
“These escalatory actions are unacceptable and I cannot justify renewing the waiver for these JCPOA-related activities as a result."
The projects no longer covered by the sanction waivers are the “Arak reactor conversion, the provision of enriched uranium for the Tehran Research Reactor, and the export of Iran’s spent and scrap research reactor fuel,” outlined Pompeo Wednesday.
GOP member of Congress were quick to congratulate the administration on their decision.
"Today the administration took a critical step toward tearing up the catastrophic Obama-Iran nuclear deal once and for all," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, wrote in a tweet Wednesday. "For too long the Ayatollah has exploited these civil nuclear waivers to build up Iran's nuclear programs, with the intention of eventually developing nuclear weapons to inflict destruction on America and our allies.”
Since President Trump pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal in May 2018, sanctions were imposed as a part of a “maximum pressure” campaign and the waivers were reviewed every 60 days.
International companies supporting the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant have been granted a 90-day extension before U.S. sanctions go into effect.
“We will continue to closely monitor all developments in Iran’s nuclear program and can modify this waiver at any time,” Pompeo warned.