Trump makes his move on Iran nuke deal
Created on: October 13th, 2017
Trump makes his move on Iran nuke deal
President Trump declared Friday that the Iran nuclear deal is no longer in the national security interest of the United States, but stopped short of withdrawing from the Obama-era pact. “I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said during a speech at the White House. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout," he continued. The president said that Iran has “has committed multiple violations of the agreement" and accused Tehran of "not living up to the spirit of the deal.” Trump ticked off a list of problems with the deal and laid out a new, tougher strategy to confront “the rogue regime” over a series of other “hostile actions” unrelated to its nuclear program. But Trump declined to completely abandon the 2015 agreement, which he derided as "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into," or call on Congress to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran that would hasten its demise. The decision is a compromise forged out of heated internal discussions about what to do with the nuclear deal between Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers. It comes before a Sunday deadline when Trump would have been forced to notify Congress whether Iran was still in compliance with the deal and if it still fit the nation’s security interests. Trump has certified Iranian compliance twice before, but was reportedly livid over the prospect of doing so again. He has repeatedly condemned the agreement and declared Iran has violated its “spirit” with its non-nuclear behavior, including its support for Syrian leader Bashar Assad and militant groups Middle East as well as its ballistic-missile program. Although Trump last certified Iran’s compliance in July, he nearly did not after former chief strategist Stephen Bannon handed him an op-ed published in The Hill by former United Nations ambassador John Bolton that laid out the case that the deal wasn’t in the U.S. national security interest, according to a report in The Weekly Standard. Trump was convinced to go through with the certification then, but it was clear it would not happen again. Several top advisers — including national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis — worried a withdrawal would enflame tensions with Iran and spark a regional crisis. They scrambled to come up with an alternative path that allowed Trump to send a message to Tehran without torpedoing the pact. Trump argued, however, that the deal is untenable, saying it “will be terminated” if no agreement is reached to strengthen and change it. He said the revisions must "ensure that Iran never — and I mean never — acquires a nuclear weapon." Trump did not call on Congress to impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities, something that would effectively remove the United States from the deal. Instead he asked Congress to pass new benchmarks Iran would need to meet in order to stave off nuclear-related sanctions in the future. That includes revisiting sunset provisions that allow Iran to ramp up uranium enrichment activity after 10 years.

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October 13th, 2017
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