Iran nuclear deal: How Trump's plan to pressure Tehran could play out

Trevor Jackson
October 13, 2017

Under U.S. law, the administration has to certify whether Iran is complying with the deal and if it is in the country's national security interest to remain in it, every 90 days.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Iran abides by all its commitments on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and emphasized that all co-authors of the document must abide by it, the Russian Foreign Ministry said after a telephone conversation of the two diplomats. Iran has said it may exit the deal if the US withdraws.

Mr. Trump has until Sunday to decide whether to recertify that Iran is in compliance with the Obama-era nuclear agreement, which limits Iran's nuclear program.

News reported the White House briefed lawmakers Wednesday on the pending decision and those who left were convinced the Obama-era nuclear deal would get decertified.

Many disagree Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA, including Senators Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, David Perdue, R-Ga., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who spelled out major instances of Iranian noncompliance and cheating in a July 11, 2017 letter to Secretary of State Tillerson.

Doing so has kept the compliance with the accord, but because it's purely an issue of US law, decertification does not matter for the deal itself. The Trump administration also wants to amend the deal to guarantee inspection of all potential nuclear sites, including military sites that Iran claims are not subject to the current agreement.

On Wednesday, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran is considering "various scenarios" in response to Trump's "probable withdrawal" from the worldwide nuclear deal.

France, Germany and Britain, despite their opposition to Washington backing away from the deal, have told USA lawmakers that they could join discussions on constraining Iran's long-term nuclear ambitions, according to one congressional Democratic aide.

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Those faults, according to Mr Trump and other officials, include the fact that several restrictions on advanced nuclear activity expire under so-called "sunset clauses", which permit Iran to begin ramping its enrichment capabilities up after 10 years as well as drop an arms embargo and ease restrictions on missile activity. "We may have to array our forces to prepare for. calibrated strikes". "There is [neither] technical, nor political space to renegotiate this deal".

Watch Federica Mogherini's full interview with the NewsHour's Judy Woodruff on Wednesday.

However, some members of Congress have expressed a willingness to hold off on sanctions to give Trump time to negotiate a strategy with the Europeans to alter the deal.

First, Congress could vote to snap sanctions back into place, or Trump could refuse to sign the next round of waivers for sanctions. He also is expected to target the country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard with new sanctions.

By moving unilaterally to scrap the agreement against the advice of many members of his own cabinet, the other nations that signed the deal, and most of the world, Trump is "undermin [ing] the credibility of the United States in all manner of negotiations, making it unlikely-to take just one risky example-the standoff with North Korea will be resolved by peaceful means". Some of them may buckle and refuse to continue economic ties with Iran, while some may seek the refuge of regulations that the European Union used to shield entities from U.S.'s secondary sanctions.

In this environment, many Democrats believe working on the periphery of the deal could be the congressional equivalent of destroying the village to save it.

Global inspectors say Iran is in technical compliance with the accord, but Trump says Tehran is in violation of the spirit of the agreement and has done nothing to rein in its ballistic missile program or its financial and military support for Hezbollah and other extremist groups.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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