What will happen if President Trump decertifies the Iran nuclear deal?

Jerome Frank
October 13, 2017

In a Wednesday interview with PBS channel, Federica Mogherini highlighted Iran's full compliance with the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and said, "We have the global community strongly behind the full implementation of the deal".

But decertification does not mean tearing up the agreement, nor will it necessarily allow the U.S.to renegotiate it, both of which Trump pledged to do as a candidate.

The president has called the Obama administration agreement the worst deal ever.

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.

Trump's administration, which took over a year after the nuclear agreement had come into force, has repeatedly attacked the agreement and desperately sought a pretext to scrap or weaken the deal.

If Trump does decertify the accord as expected, it would put him at odds with Defense Secretary James Mattis, who last week said Tehran was "fundamentally" in compliance with the agreement and that the US should stick with the pact.

De-certifying would not withdraw the United States from the deal but it would give the U.S. Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose the sanctions on Tehran that were suspended under the agreement.

To win over some conservative Republicans and Iran hawks, Corker and other leaders are considering proposing sanctions on Iran's non-nuclear activities and broader inspections, particularly of Iranian military facilities. Those in favor of keeping the deal in place argue it's working and will prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons for 15 years.

However, with the agreement in place and strongly supported by co-signers Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, many Republicans who still abhor the pact nevertheless do not want to blow it up for fear that doing so would erode US credibility.

Officials familiar with the internal deliberations as well as informed sources outside the administration say they do not believe Trump will call for Congress to reinstate the sanctions.

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"The deal not only will hold, but the deal does not belong to one country or another. That ship has sailed", according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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.

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

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".

On Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved sanctions targeting Iran's ballistic missiles development.

Top officials from Trump's national security team, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, have also confirmed that Iran has been technically compliant.

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.

He has criticized the agreement's "sunset clauses", under which some restrictions on Iran's nuclear program would expire over time. "We thought it was the wrong decision", Cardin told reporters recently.

Deutch said the danger of walking away from the agreement is that those expiration dates "would have effectively dropped from a decade to a day" because Iran would be freed of its obligations under the deal. "Once it was entered into, once it was implemented, we want to see it enforced".

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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