US President Donald Trump is "very likely" to state that Iran is adhering to its nuclear agreement although he continues to have reservations about it, a senior US official said on Thursday.
If Trump does state Iran is in compliance, it would be his second time since taking office in January to do so despite his promise during the 2016 campaign to "rip up" what he called "the worst deal ever."
Under US law, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran's compliance with the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Trump has a congressionally mandated deadline of Monday to decide.
TRT World 's Sally Ayhan has more on the uncertainty of the future of the agreement.
The landmark 2015 deal struck with Iran by the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany is aimed at preventing Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon by imposing time-limited restrictions and strict international monitoring on its nuclear program. In return, Tehran won relief from punishing international economic sanctions.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Trump could always change his mind.
Iran denies seeking nuclear arms. However, the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded in December 2015 that Iran worked on the design of a missile-borne nuclear warhead until 2009.
Terms of the deal
The objective of the accord is to bring to a minimum of one year, for at least 10 years, the "breakout time," or the time Iran needs to produce enough fissile material to make an atom bomb. It is also meant to ensure that any moves to do so will be easily detectable.
Under the deal, Tehran agreed to slash the number of uranium centrifuges, which can enrich uranium for nuclear fuel as well as for nuclear weapons, from more than 19,000 to 5,060, maintaining this level for 10 years.
All enrichment takes place at the Natanz facility. The Fordo site, containing an additional 1,044 centrifuges, is no longer allowed under the accord to enrich uranium.
Iran's pre-deal stockpile of 12 tonnes of low-enriched uranium – enough for several nuclear weapons if further enriched – is under the deal reduced to 300 kilogrammes (660 pounds), a ceiling that will last for 15 years.
The lifting of crippling sanctions
The accord, adopted by the UN Security Council on July 20, 2015, came into force on January 16, 2016, opening the way for a partial lifting of international sanctions on Iran.
UN embargoes on conventional arms and on ballistic missiles have been maintained up to 2020 and 2023 respectively.
Many international sanctions have since been lifted, opening the door for foreign investors. In early July, French group Total, heading an international consortium, signed $4.8-billion deal with Iran.
However, Washington has imposed new measures targeting Iran's ballistic missile programme and activities in the region.
Expectations dampened in Tehran
In Tehran, the euphoria of July 2015 has given way to disillusion.
Even if the desire for closer ties with the West remains strong among many Iranians – as shown by the re-election in May of the moderate Rouhani – the much-anticipated economic fruits of the nuclear deal have been slow to materialise.
The continuing American sanctions frighten bankers and scare away international corporations.