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Nuclear Deal: After calling it worst deal ever, Trump’s administration renews sanctions relief for Iran

Donald Trump’s White House has renewed sanctions relief for Iran, despite the US president’s past criticism.

The easing of sanctions is part of a crucial nuclear deal brokered in 2015 under then-President Barack Obama with five other world powers.

Mr Trump has described the landmark agreement as the “worst deal ever”.

However, the US Treasury issued fresh sanctions against specific officials and a Chinese business with links to Iran’s missile programme.

The move means that sanctions preventing any US companies selling to or dealing with Iran will remain suspended for the time being.

In return, Iran has pledged to restrict its nuclear activities, reducing its uranium enrichment, plutonium production plans, and allowing inspectors access to facilities.

The new sanctions from the Treasury are much more specific in scope, targeting two senior Iranian defence officials and suppliers of missile equipment, in apparent retaliation for a recent missile test, and for Iran’s support of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

US citizens and entities are now banned from dealing with the officials and companies involved.

However, the White House stopped short of failing to renew the waivers on more widespread sanctions, which are not permanent and were due to expire this week.

This is the first time Mr Trump has been faced with the issue, after former President Obama renewed the agreement shortly before he left office.

Mr Trump has consistently warned Iran over its missile activity, and has criticised the terms of the deal made by Mr Obama – at one point claiming his “number one priority” if elected would be “to dismantle the disastrous deal”.

But the other nations involved in the agreement – including China, Russia, and the UK – believe it is the best way to prevent Iran getting a nuclear weapon.

Since Mr Trump’s inauguration, his administration has also continued to certify to Congress that Iran is upholding its part of the deal, which it must do every 90 days.

But in April, Mr Trump ordered a wider review of the nuclear deal, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods.

Tehran, however, has always argued it has no nuclear weapon ambitions and is using nuclear technology for energy purposes.