Trump signs Russia sanctions, calls them 'seriously flawed'



WASHINGTON, Anne K Walters (dpa) - US President Donald Trump signed a measure that imposes sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea on Wednesday, despite concerns that it is "seriously flawed."
The sanctions on Russia have drawn the most attention, prompting an outcry from Moscow and raising concerns among European allies, as Congress sought to force Trump's hand by targeting Russia for meddling in the 2016 US election.



Russian President Vladimir Putin in response ordered a reduction in the US diplomatic presence in Russia.
Trump said he had signed the measure for the "sake of national unity" amid the US public's desire to see changes to Russia's behaviour, despite what he called "unconstitutional" provisions that usurp his authority.
"I favour tough measures to punish and deter bad behaviour by the rogue regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang. I also support making clear that America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process, and that we will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization," Trump said in a statement after signing the bill behind closed doors.
Changes to the measure during the legislative process had addressed concerns about their impact on business interests and European allies by providing greater flexibility, but Trump said he remains concerned about the limits the law places on the president's ability to make foreign policy decisions.
"By limiting the Executive's flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together," Trump said. "The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice."
Trump pointed to his own business experience to claim his experience in blasting Congress for its move to bypass him.
"I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress," he said.
The legislation includes a provision making it more difficult for the US president to remove sanctions against Russia. Trump has repeatedly argued for better relations with Moscow, despite several investigations into Russian meddling in last year's presidential election.
The Senate and House of Representatives had overwhelmingly passed the measure last month despite reservations by the White House.
The sanctions target Russia over its interference in US presidential elections as well as over Ukraine and Syria. The bill prohibits the president from easing the Russian sanctions without Congress' approval.
The European Union had expressed reservations because the bill includes measures that would punish companies for developing or doing work on Russian pipelines, and this could subsequently affect infrastructure transporting energy resources to Europe via Ukraine.
The EU would not take immediate action in response to the new sanctions amid efforts to ease its concerns, but would reserve the right to do so if US sanctions hit European companies, a spokeswoman said.
The sanctions on North Korea target its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes as well as use of slave labour. Iran is targeted for its terrorist activities, human rights abuses and ballistic missile programmes.
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Wednesday, August 2nd 2017
Anne K Walters
           


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