Spotlight: Trump signs what he calls "seriously flawed" sanctions bill on Russia, Iran, DPRK

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-03 04:46:57|Editor: Liu

A combination of file photos show Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) at a news conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on Feb. 28, 2017 and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on June 1, 2017. (Xinhua)

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed into law a sanctions bill on Russia, Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), while describing the bill as "seriously flawed."

In a statement released by the White House, Trump said while he favoured tough measures to "punish and deter bad behavior" by Iran and the DPRK and supported making clear to Russia that "America will not to tolerate interference in our democratic process," he criticized the legislation for including "unconstitutional provisions" and being "seriously flawed."

"Still, the bill remains seriously flawed -- particularly because it encroached on the executive branch's authority to negotiate," said Trump.

Unlike previous sanctions bills, the new legislation grants U.S. lawmakers power to block Trump from unilaterally lifting sanctions on Russia.

The bill was approved overwhelmingly early this month by the U.S. Congress despite the Trump administration calling on lawmakers to grant the White House "flexibility" in dealing with Russia.

"By limiting the Executive's flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people," said Trump in the statement.

Despite his objections, Trump said he signed the bill "for the sake of national unity."

"It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States," said Trump.

In a rare bipartisan move, U.S. House of Representatives approved the sanctions bill by a vote of 419 to 3 with the Senate passing the bill by 98 to 2.

The near-unanimous congressional approval indicated a bipartisan consensus to punish Russia for the Ukraine crisis and its alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election, which Moscow had for long been strongly denied.

The solid bipartisan push for the legislation also reflected lawmakers' concern about the Trump administration's posture toward Russia.

On the campaign trail and after the election, Trump repeatedly raised the possibility that he would consider lifting sanctions on Russia to mend the bilateral relations.

In retaliation for the new sanctions legislation, Moscow had already ordered the U.S. diplomatic mission in Russia to cut its staff by 755 people.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Moscow was reserving the right to take further retaliatory measures in response to a sanctions bill signed by U.S. President Trump.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday announced Moscow's decision to reduce the U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 people, including U.S. and Russian nationals, by Sept. 1.

In making the announcement, Putin said that Russia had run out of patience in waiting for relationship with the United States to improve.

"We waited for quite a long time that, perhaps, something will change for the better," said Putin in an interview with a Russian TV station aired on Sunday.

"But, judging by everything, if it (bilateral relationship) changes, it will not be soon," said Putin.