President Trump is re-certifying the Iranian nuclear deal Friday for another 120 days but warned it's the last time, as the US seeks a tougher agreement against Tehran with European allies, and the administration slapped Iran with fresh sanctions.
The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned 14 companies and individuals in Iran and China - in connection with alleged human rights violations and weapons proliferation.
Although Trump approved the waivers on Friday, he has railed against the deal since his presidential campaign, particularly against what he calls "sunset clauses" that allow Tehran to gradually resume wider nuclear activities in the next decade.
Iran has said it's not interested in any renegotiation and would nearly certainly view a side agreement between the US and Europe as a violation of the deal.
Iran's foreign ministry accused Mr Trump of "continuing to take hostile measures against the Iranian people and repeating the threats that have failed many times".
USA officials said on Friday they want to see an agreement that reimposes sanctions on Iran if it doesn't adhere to new inspections standards or begins advancing its nuclear program after certain restrictions in the original nuclear deal expire.
"So Trump now has issued explicit May deadline to Congress and Europeans: Fix Iran nuke deal or no more sanctions waivers", wrote Mark Dubowitz, head of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
However, Iran has not held up its end of the deal, Trump has repeatedly said. The 2015 agreement between the United States and Iran also was signed by China, France, Russia, Britain, Germany and the European Union, and these countries would have been unlikely to join the United States in reimposing sanctions.
"If at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately", he said. There are about 400 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors in Iran, and they indicate Iran is complying with the deal. JCPOA is not renegotiable: "rather than repeating exhausted rhetoric, United States must bring itself into full compliance -just like Iran", Zarif said on his social Twitter account.
In his statement Friday, Trump said he remained open to revising the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, or INARA. "He intends to work with our European partners on some kind of follow-on agreement that enshrines certain triggers that the Iranian regime can not exceed related to ballistic missiles, related to nuclear breakout period.to inspection and that would have no sunset clause".
"Fourth, the legislation must explicitly state in United States law-for the first time-that long-range missile and nuclear weapons programs are inseparable, and that Iran's development and testing of missiles should be subject to severe sanctions".
On Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the "necessary respect by all parties" of Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, in a telephone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.