Seth Connell reports for months, the Trump administration has been railing against the Obama administration’s nuclear Iran Deal, claiming that it was one of the worst foreign policy moves in U.S. history. The Iranians reportedly got billions of dollars in exchange for little that advances U.S. interests. Now, his administration will take a new approach to the deal.
The President is not fully dismantling the program, but will instead decertify Iranian compliance with the deals stipulations. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action lifted a great deal of sanctions on the Iranians, one of the most contentious aspects of the deal. The Obama administration also did not further tighten nuclear restrictions on the Iranians, though, making the opposition’s frustration even more pronounced.
The Trump administration is taking action now, and according to the Washington Free Beacon, the new strategy now puts the ball into Congress’ court, and the legislature will have to determine what sanctions to reinstate against the Iranians. However, the new strategy may actually cause them to walk away from the Iran Deal as a whole.
The Trump administration says it is now urging an alternate course, one that keeps the United States a party to the nuclear agreement while providing a parallel set a new laws that would force Iran to provide greater access to its contested nuclear sites.
“We will stay in the JCPOA but the president is going to decertify under” the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, or INARA, the key piece of legislation that requires the White House to certify Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal every 90 days.
“The president has come to the conclusion he cannot certify under INARA” that Iran is living up to all of its commitments under the deal, according to Tillerson.
By declining certification under this law, Trump is handing the issue to Congress for increased scrutiny.
The White House now wants solid “trigger points” to target the Iranian regime’s continued pursuance of ballistic missile technology. The regime’s obfuscation on the nuclear aspect of the deal also drove the Trump administration to alter the deal.
According to Secretary of State Rex Tillersion, the “trigger points that are specific to the nuclear program itself, but also deals with things like their ballistic missile program.”
The move will ensure that Congress has greater oversight of the Iran Deal, whereas before Congress was not as involved. Additionally, the new stipulations put forth by the administration would end the “sunset clauses” included in the original deal’s language.
If Congress alters INARA to account for these provisions, it would create a parallel set of laws that negate these sunset clauses, according to the Trump administration.
“We’re never going to accept them resuming their nuclear weapons program,” Tillerson said.
Amending INARA “puts more teeth” in the JCPOA and “does send a strong message to Iran that these are requirements the U.S. feels are necessary to ensure you never have nuclear weapons,” Tillerson said. “It puts much more stature behind this expectation we have of Iran that currently exists under the JCPOA.”
Asked if Congress is up to the task, Tillerson expressed hope, but admitted, “We don’t want to suggest this is a slam dunk up on the Hill. It is not.”
The Iranians have “technically” been compliant with the deal’s stipulations, but the problem lies in the fact that the bar was set so low as to make technical compliance rather easy.
“One of the weaknesses is the bar, the standard to remain in technical compliance has not been that difficult for them to meet.”
Additionally, “it is difficult to gain full access to sites throughout Iran and gain access to sites on a short term basis” due to provisions in the agreement that give Iran more than a month before permitting inspectors into contested areas.”
The administration will now demand “access to research sites no one was asking before. We’re leaning hard into the agreement,” Tillerson further stated. “They can trust we’ll never do a deal again this weak.”
What do you think about this? Is it time to put sanctions back on Iran? Should we pull out of the Iran Deal altogether and try something else? Let me know below!