Iran nuclear deal: Trump under pressure as decision nears

Marie Harrington
October 13, 2017

In separate phone conversations with the Iranian top diplomat on Wednesday night, Mogherini and Gabriel stressed that all parties to the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers need to fulfil their obligations under the global agreement.

The agreement required Iran to limit its nuclear arsenal in order to have multiple economic sanctions lifted. However, "as flawed as the deal is, I believe we must now enforce the hell out of it", and make sure inspectors have better access to possible nuclear sites, he said. Engel, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, said unwinding the agreement would send a risky signal to allies and adversaries alike.

As British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch said on September 25, "We would say, let's intensify the discussions [on how to deal with Iran's other activity], but let's keep the JCPOA".

These plans are expected to highlight how the USA can work with its allies to counter any threats made by the Iranians.

Notably, the committee's top Republican, Rep. Ed Royce, said the USA should adhere to the deal. Former Secretary of State John Kerry, former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Wendy Sherman, the former undersecretary of state for political affairs, along with European ambassadors met behind closed doors with lawmakers. But he's changed his thinking.

Drafts of two proposals seen by The Associated Press, one from Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker and one from committee member and harsh deal critic Senator Tom Cotton, would expand the USA certification criteria to include items that are also the province of the United Nations nuclear watchdog and require the U.S. intelligence community to determine if Iran is carrying out illicit activity in facilities to which the International Atomic Energy Agency does not have access.

The step would not withdraw the United States from the deal but would give the U.S. Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose the sanctions on Tehran that were suspended under an agreement that was negotiated by the United States and other world powers during the administration of former President Barack Obama. "They could race headlong toward a nuclear bomb, hold all of the benefits of sanctions relief, and continue fomenting instability across the region". "That ship has sailed", according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Republican legislators recently began drawing up new versions of the law that remove the 90-day timetable and replace it with "semi-annual" certifications, according to the officials.

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Leading House Republicans huddled with national security adviser H.R. McMaster Wednesday evening for a classified briefing on the administration's plan for the 2015 agreement.

Trump threatened during the presidential campaign to tear the pact up if he was elected.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that Iran "is not in material breach of the agreement".

Top officials from Trump's national security team, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, have also confirmed that Iran has been technically compliant. Many will not even discuss what congressional debate might follow if Trump decertifies, instead focusing the arguments for certification. Among them were Reps.

The agreement contains specific restrictions on Iran's nuclear program that will expire after predetermined periods of time.

Touching on speculations about the likelihood of renegotiation of the deal, Mogherini pointed to the "extremely complex nuclear aspects" of the JCPOA which have been ironed out over 12 years of intensive negotiations, saying, "It is not a deal you can easily open and renegotiate".

"I think I speak for a lot of us who opposed the agreement".

Ahead, we break down the implications of that decision and what could come next. "We may have to array our forces to prepare for. calibrated strikes".

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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