A decision by U.S. President Donald Trump not to renew sanctions relief for Iran on May 12 would not necessarily mean the United States had withdrawn from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear what Mnuchin meant by his comment but it appeared to signal the Trump administration believes the agreement will not necessarily collapse if Trump chooses not to extend U.S. sanctions relief to Iran.

The crux of the 2015 agreement between Iran and six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – was that Iran would restrict its nuclear program in return for relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy.

On Jan. 12, Trump delivered an ultimatum to Britain, France and Germany, saying they must agree to “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal” or he would refuse to extend the U.S. sanctions relief on Iran that it calls for.

U.S. sanctions will resume unless Trump issues new “waivers” to suspend them on May 12, although it is not clear how quickly they would go into effect.

European officials saw Trump’s Jan. 12 comments as a threat to kill the deal. They have since been in negotiations with the Trump administration to see if there is a way to salvage it.

Speaking at a congressional hearing, Mnuchin said the Trump administration was in talks with allies and would “not do anything abruptly.”

– By Reuters

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