WASHINGTON – President Trump long has criticized the Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama administration. Now it appears he is poised to decertify it, turning the issue over to Congress.
In a speech at 12:45 p.m., Trump is expected to declare to Congress that retaining the 2015 agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is no longer in the U.S. national interest. But he will stop short, for now, of unraveling the accord or even rewriting it.
The deadline for the president to recertify the deal is Saturday.
Choosing not to recertify, however, does not necessarily mean the deal will collapse.
Congress will now have 60 days to decide if they will reimpose sanctions on Iran with regard to the country’s nuclear program, or attach new conditions to the agreement.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that Trump would urge Congress to toughen requirements for Iran to continue to get relief from U.S. sanctions. The administration also wants Congress to address troubling non-nuclear Iranian behavior not covered by the deal, reported the Associated Press.
The administration specifically wants to renegotiate the provisions on inspections. The United States reportedly wants to expand access to Iran’s military sites and to curtail Iran’s ballistic missile program.
A report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin explained the deal actually allows no provisions for real inspections.
The Middle East Media Research Institute reported it’s because “the inspection procedure takes place only at sites where Iran has agreed to allow inspection, that is, sites Iran itself has declared as nuclear sites, but not at any other sites in Iran, including military sites.”
“The Obama administration and the countries party to the JCPOA designed the JCPOA in a way that on the one hand they can claim that a robust inspection is being applied while on the other hand they allowed Iran to evade inspection in all other sites.”
MEMRI said: “Recently, Western officials and commentators who support the JCPOA began to address two issues related to the JCPOA that they themselves admit to be problems that must be addressed. However, these issues – Iran’s development of long-range ballistic missiles, and the sunset clause, which refers to the removal, in eight to 10 years, of the restrictions on Iran set out in the agreement – are either not part of the JCPOA, i.e. the missiles, or are a long way off, i.e. the sunset clause, and therefore need not necessarily be addressed immediately.
“Thus, by raising these two issues they are diverting attention from the main, critical problem in the agreement which does require immediate attention: its lack of real inspection. This problem came up again recently when it was reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had chosen to refrain from inspecting sites in Iran based on information submitted to it about possible violations.
“It should be clarified that when Iran, the IAEA, and the heads of the parties to the JCPOA reiterate that there is robust, intrusive, and unprecedented inspection, they are perpetuating the false depiction of the section of the JCPOA concerning inspection.”
The president is also expected to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran’s most powerful security force, as a terrorist organization.
The Tehran Times quoted IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari saying, “If the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the guards a terrorist group, then the guards will consider the American army to be like Daesh all around the world particularly in the Middle East.”
The agreement was signed between Iran and six world powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.S. – at talks coordinated by the European Union.
The agreement must be recertified every three months, and it last was done on July 17.
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton says President Trump should coordinate a global information campaign to build support for an American announcement that Iran is in violation of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal.
The agreement is not a treaty because it was never considered by the U.S. Senate, and so a president has the authority to abandon it.
Bolton explained in a column at the Gatestone Institute that then-chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, who resigned Aug. 18, asked him to “draw up” a “game plan” for defining a compelling rationale to exit the “failed nuclear deal.”
“I offer the paper now as a public service, since staff changes at the White House have made presenting it to President Trump impossible,” he wrote.
He noted Trump already twice has certified Iran as being in compliance, but before the second announcement, “Trump asked repeatedly for alternatives to acquiescing yet again in a policy he clearly abhorred.”
“But no such options were forthcoming, despite ‘a sharp series of exchanges’ between the president and his advisers,” he wrote.
A new way forward is needed, he said, because the Obama deal “is a threat to U.S. national-security interests, growing more serious by the day.”
To move forward with uncovering Iran’s perfidy and make progress on U.S. security, he said, “a comprehensive plan must be developed and executed to build domestic and international support for the new policy.”
To do that, the U.S., “must explain the grave threat to the U.S. and our allies, particularly Israel.”
“The JCPOA’s vague and ambiguous wording; its manifest imbalance in Iran’s direction; Iran’s significant violations; and its continued, indeed, increasingly, unacceptable conduct at the strategic level international; demonstrate convincingly that the JCPOA is not in the national-security interests of the United States.”
He said”we can bolster the case for abrogation by providing new, declassified information on Iran’s unacceptable behavior around the world.”
The real work will be assuring “the international community that the U.S. decision will in fact enhance international peace and security.”
“The administration should announce that it is abrogating the JCPOA due to significant Iranian violations, Iran’s unacceptable international conduct more broadly, and because the JCPOA threatens American national-security interests,” he explained. “The administration’s explanation in a ‘white paper’ should stress the many dangerous concessions made to reach this deal, such as allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium; allowing Iran to operate a heavy-water reactor; and allowing Iran to operate and develop advanced centrifuges while the JCPOA is in effect. Utterly inadequate verification and enforcement mechanisms and Iran’s refusal to allow inspections of military sites also provide important reasons for the administration’s decision.”