Trump administration pledges 'great strictness' on Iran nuclear deal

A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during the Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

VIENNA (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's administration pledged on Tuesday to show "great strictness" over restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities imposed by a deal with major powers, but gave little indication of what that might mean for the agreement.

The 2015 deal between Iran and six major powers restricts Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Trump has called the agreement "the worst deal ever negotiated". His administration is now carrying out a review of the accord which could take months, but it has said little about where it stands on specific issues.

The Trump administration also gave few clues about any potential policy shift on Tuesday in a statement to a quarterly meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog's Board of Governors.

"The United States will approach questions of JCPOA interpretation, implementation, and enforcement with great strictness indeed," the statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-nation board said, citing the deal's full name: the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

But the U.S. statement, the first to the Board of Governors since Trump took office in January, also repeated language used by the administration of former U.S. president Barack Obama, for whom the deal was a legacy achievement.

"Iran must strictly and fully adhere to all commitments and technical measures for their duration," it said - wording identical to that used in the U.S. statement to the previous Board of Governors meeting in November.

The IAEA, which polices the restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities under the deal, last month produced a quarterly report saying that Iran's stock of enriched uranium had halved after coming close to a limit imposed by the agreement.

That report was the first to specify how much enriched uranium Iran has, thanks to a series of agreements between Tehran and major powers clarifying items that would not count toward the stock.

Some major powers had criticized previous reports for not being specific enough on items such as the size of the enriched uranium stock, and the U.S. statement called for future reports to be as detailed.

"We welcome inclusion of the additional level of detail, and expect it will continue in the future," it said.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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