The Trump administration is expected to announce next week that it will not formally certify Iran as in compliance with the landmark nuclear agreement, a move that could kill the agreement and set the stage for Congress to reimpose harsh economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, according to multiple U.S. officials and sources familiar with the situation.
While some senior Trump administration officials—including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis—are pushing for President Donald Trump to preserve the deal, it has become increasingly clear the president is frustrated with Iran’s continued tests of ballistic missile technology and rogue operations targeting U.S. forces in the region, according to these sources.
Designating Iran as in non-compliance with the deal would loosen restrictions on how the United States can target Tehran and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which has been the main entity behind Iran’s military operations in Syria and elsewhere in the region. It also would allow the administration to save face in the short-term by not technically walking away from the agreement.
The final nail in the coffin, these sources said, was the recent admission by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, that it cannot fully assess whether Iran is working on sensitive nuclear explosive technology due to restrictions on inspections and specific sites in the Islamic Republic.
This disclosure has roiled congressional opponents of the deal and is said to have finally pushed the Trump administration to stop certifying Iran as in compliance with the deal, a decision which must be made by Oct. 15.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), a vocal opponent of the deal, told the Washington Free Beacon that Trump has no option but to decertify Iran and allow Congress to enact harsh penalties that could lay the groundwork for the entire agreement to be scrapped or renegotiated.
“The IAEA’s admission that they are unable to verify a fundamental provision under the nuclear deal—that the Iranians are not engaging in activities or using equipment to develop a nuclear explosive device—is highly alarming. In these circumstances, issuing a compliance certification would be serious mistake,” Cruz said.
“If the Iranians are serious about a peaceful program, they need to prove it. Iran’s continued refusal to allow IAEA access to military sites—a clear requirement of the terms of the deal—renders the JCPOA utterly ineffective, and, even worse, a sham that only facilitates Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons,” Cruz said. “This absence of any meaningful verification is yet another reason to vitiate this foolhardy agreement.”
Senior congressional officials working on the matter told the Free Beacon that recertification should be off the table. Attempts by some Trump administration officials to argue in favor of preserving the deal are no longer valid, these sources said.
“This should be the final nail in the coffin for recertification,” said one senior congressional aide intimately familiar with how the issue is being worked on in Congress. “In what universe would Iran need nuclear explosive devices if its leadership has truly abandoned its pursuit of nuclear weapons?”
That brilliant, secret side deal that says Iran gets to inspect itself. That Obama and Kerry; TOUGH negotiators.
How long is it going to take people to realize that Trump is a dangerous nincompoop? His Secretary of State has certainly noticed.
Trump has been repeatedly making noises about unilaterally blowing off an international agreement with Iran that has set back their nuclear weapons schedule by years, while having absolutely nothing in the way of a Plan B. Should anyone have missed the obvious, this is the foreign affairs version of repealing Obamacare while having absolutely no clue what to replace it with.
It’s not like we need for Iran to ramp up their nuclear program again to quickly give us another emergent nuclear state to worry about. North Korea should be more than enough. In the case of North Korea, we haven’t even come up with a reasonable Plan A. Contrary to the fantasy Trump is promoting, a preemptive military strike isn’t reasonable. It would most likely turn into the American catastrophe that saner people are still hoping to somehow avoid.
I imagine the predictable response to these observations will be something like Obama, yada-yada-yada. Clinton, yada-yada-yada. Which, of course, is nothing more than a way of covering the fact that one has nothing remotely useful or intelligent to share regarding the problem at hand.
Distractions-R-Us. With one potential crisis after another looming up all around us, Trump arranges for Stooge No. 2 to show up and then walk out on a football game, because the players aren’t falling into line regarding the subject of one of Trump’s previous Twitter tantrums.
Republican Senator Bob Corker summed the current situation up very nicely this morning: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
@Greg: Well, it wasn’t Trump that gave a nation that pledged to wipe another nation off the map $150,000,000,000 to go finish their development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Now, THAT was a dangerous nincompoop move.
No, we don’t need that, but most likely that’s what we have, since Iran will not allow the inspections that are supposed to be happening to be in compliance.
Obama’s Iran deal was the worst possible agreement one could imagine and it is going exactly the way Iran planned it. They got EVERYTHING they wanted and gave up nothing. All the United States and the rest of the world got was Obama saying “I made a deal!”
@Greg: How has this delayed the schedule, how can you prove that. The only thing it delayed was a Death to America chant with their laughter at Mr. Mom Jeans.
Trump recertified the nuclear agreement with Iran this past January.
Secretary of State Tillerson has been urging him to again certify Iran’s compliance.
Iran has, in fact, complied with the provisions of the agreement, which is undeniably better than no agreement at all. There is no “technically,” which is a political weasel word. Either they are, or are not. Pursuant to the agreement, they exported most of their low-enriched uranium stockpile, and they destroyed the core of the single reactor they had that was capable of producing plutonium. Had the agreement not been made, they would already have a nuclear warhead, based either on uranium or plutonium.
Tillerson understands that. If we scrap the agreement, they may fast-track the program again. And that’s one more problem to which we haven’t figured out a better solution. Unless, of course, you want to pay the taxes necessary to fight another region-wide ground war in the Middle East, while still having North Korea to worry about. China probably won’t loan us the money, like they did previously.
Trump has no unified understanding of our international challenges. He thinks each problem is an isolated problem, when they’re all complexly interrelated, and all have serious domestic policy implications. He claimed he’d put the best teams of experts on the job in all of the many areas outside his own expertise. In fact, he behaves like a bull in a china shop and fires anyone who crosses him or runs contrary to his own clueless pronouncements. He’s apparently on the verge of war with his own Secretary of State, with a General trying to hold things together.
Why wouldn’t they? They got everything they asked for, and more. However, they are NOT allowing inspections and, in violation of UN resolution, they continue to test ballistic missiles… for peaceful purposes, I’m sure.
If you would look at this from some perspective other than that of a loyal Obama worshiper, you would see what an obscene joke the entire agreement is. Iran is not supposed to cheat, but only Iran is allowed to verify their are not cheating. Sweet deal if you can get it.
Well, one thing for sure he is not up to the challenge of. He will never be able to strike a worse deal than Obama did with Iran. I doubt anyone is up to the challenges left by Obama’s disastrous term, but Trump is doing a really, really good job so far.
@Deplorable Me, #7:
They weren’t required to allow their military sites to be inspected. What country would agree to that? Nor were they required to cease all ballistic missile development.
We got a useful agreement that has accomplished certain things, not a perfect agreement that accomplished all things we could possibly want.
Trump seems to like that song he ripped off from the Rolling Stones and regularly used at his rallies without their permission. He should listen to the effing words sometime.
Oh, I don’t know… a country that supports terrorism, is developing nuclear weapons and has pledged to wipe another country from the map? Perhaps?
Of course, they wouldn’t VOLUNTEER to allow it, but someone negotiating from a position of strength and with the desire to protect the world would have made it a requirement.
Your argument holds water only if you trust Iran… nuff said.