In an unexpected move, President Obama has declined to sign legislation renewing sanctions against Iran—but has let it become law anyway. Obama faced a midnight Wednesday deadline to sign the 10-year renewal of the decades-old sanctions law, the AP reports. The White House had said that Obama was expected to sign it. But White House press secretary Josh Earnest says Obama is letting it become law without his signature, saying the president retains authority to waive all nuclear sanctions lifted as part of the deal reached with Tehran.
Iran's president had vowed to respond if the sanctions were renewed, arguing they violate terms of the nuclear deal. The White House disagreed but said Obama would sign it begrudgingly despite deeming it unnecessary. President-elect Donald Trump has been sharply critical of the nuclear deal. On Nov. 30, senators passed the bill to extend sanctions unanimously, 99-0, two weeks after the House also approved the legislation by an overwhelming margin of 419-1. Lawmakers said the extension gives the US the clout to punish Iran should it fail to live up to the terms of the deal. (The deal has made it possible for Iran to order 80 planes from Boeing.)