US concerned by Iran crackdown, 'will not remain silent' - White House

From Left Deputy Iran FM Abbas Araghchi Former President of UNGA Mogens Lykketoft Former Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema Former British FM Jack Straw Oman's FM Yusuf bin Alawi and Former Iranian FM Kamal Kharrazi in a Panel of Tehran Security

From Left Deputy Iran FM Abbas Araghchi Former President of UNGA Mogens Lykketoft Former Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema Former British FM Jack Straw Oman's FM Yusuf bin Alawi and Former Iranian FM Kamal Kharrazi in a Panel of Tehran Security

Senior White House officials and congressional leadership are scrambling to save the Iran nuclear deal and convince President Donald Trump to again waive key sanctions on the Islamic Republic despite opposition, according to multiple sources working on the matter who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

In a statement before the Brussels meeting, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson highlighted the sharp break with Washington - calling the nuclear deal "a crucial agreement that makes the world safer".

Trump is a fierce critic of the nuclear accord and refused to certify Iran's compliance with the deal at the last deadline in October.

The 2015 pact is underpinned on the US side by a presidential waiver of nuclear-related sanctions on Iran's central bank. But Zarif was quoted as saying that media reports that the Brussels talks would focus on the protests are "baseless and unfounded". Khamenei has blamed Trump, along with Israel, the Iraqi Kurds, and Iranian dissidents, for widespread protests in Iran this month.

Zarif took to Twitter after the Brussels meeting to warn that "Iran's continued compliance (is) conditioned on full compliance by the USA".

If Trump did waive the sanctions, one official said, the administration would nevertheless impose new, targeted measure on Iranian businesses and people.

Iran has said that if the United States walks away from the agreement, it is ready to give an "appropriate and heavy response".

She spoke after a meeting Thursday in Brussels with the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and Iran to discuss the 2015 agreement, which limited Iran's nuclear program amid concerns it was working to develop nuclear weapons, and in exchange gave Iran relief from financial sanctions.

Trump had vowed to rip up the agreement during his election campaign and has repeatedly referred to it as "the worst deal ever", accusing Iran of violating the "spirit" of the pact. But Mr. Trump warned it remained a possibility.

"Iran is ready to increase the speed of its nuclear activities in various areas, especially enrichment, several times more than pre-JCPOA era", said Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran in an interview with state television, using the technical acronym for the nuclear deal.

"These sanctions target key entities involved in Iran's ballistic missile program, which the Iranian regime prioritizes over the economic well-being of the Iranian people", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Juan Zarate, a former assistant treasury secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday that immediate sanctions could be imposed to "isolate and pressure the Revolutionary Guard and the regime leadership by spotlighting human rights abuses, corruption, support to terrorists and militant proxies, and the progress of their ballistic missile program in violation of United Nations sanctions". Within the week, the administration must also tell Congress whether Iran is complying with the major components of the nuclear deal. But during the 2016 election campaign all his closest foreign policy advisors, such as Michael Flynn, shared a worldview that portrays Iran as an uniquely malign actor in the Middle East and beyond.

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