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U.S., Iran policy depends not just on sanctions but on flexibility

By Arshad Mohammed and Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As U.S. President Donald Trump resumes sanctions on Iran, the success of his push to curb its nuclear, missile and regional activities may hinge on how flexible he is willing to be on his extensive demands to coax Tehran into talks.

Washington will reintroduce sanctions on Monday targeting Iran’s most important industry – oil – and U.S. officials have indicated a measure of flexibility is needed to ensure global markets are well supplied to keep prices from surging.

In abandoning the international 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Trump and his top aides have touted the re-imposition of economic penalties on Iran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign to force a change in a wide range of Iranian behavior.

What Trump wants from Tehran, though, is seen by former officials as a “maximalist” position that includes ending uranium enrichment, giving U.N. inspectors access to all sites across Iran and ceasing support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, Houthis in Yemen and the Hamas Palestinian militant group.

On May 21, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listed 12 demands that also covered Iran ending development of nuclear-capable missiles, withdrawing forces under its command in Syria, and ceasing threatening acts toward its neighbors.

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