President Donald Trump should only withdraw from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal after the Islamic republic violates the deal amidst heavy enforcement, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker told a Washington Post audience Wednesday.
Corker’s guidance follows assurances from Trump that he will likely scuttle the nuclear deal in September when he is required to certify the Islamic republic’s compliance to Congress. “If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal Tuesday, adding: “I would be surprised if they were in compliance” in 90 days.
Trump was successfully persuaded not to the scuttle the deal July 18 after his national security team implored him not to do so. Trump is reportedly angry that the Islamic republic continues to support terrorist groups like Hezbollah, kidnap U.S. citizens, and aggressively pursue its ballistic missile program.
Corker reiterated the position of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, saying “you can only tear the agreement up one time. So when you’re going to tear it up since nothing bad is happening today.” He continued, “We gave up all of our leverage already. So wait until you have your allies aligned with you. Radically enforce it. If you radically enforce it, they’re liable and right now, I know that we’re asking — I know we’re asking to get into various facilities in Iran. If they don’t let us in, boom.”
Proponents for staying in the deal say withdrawing from the deal would essentially allow the regime to keep all of the sanctions relief money it got in 2015-2016 while not having to comply with nuclear site inspections. Corker appeared to endorse the current course the Trump administration has adopted, which is to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal but sanction it heavily for its nefarious activity.
The sanctions alone could cause Iran to withdraw from the deal, absolving Trump of having to make the decision. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif painted new U.S. sanctions on Iran as a violation of the 2015 agreement, in a recent interview with The New York Times. Zarif has previously cast any U.S. efforts at punishing Iran for its ballistic missile program or ongoing support for Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Syria as violations of the nuclear deal, indicating that the country may withdraw if it sees no increased economic benefit in the coming year.
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