President Donald Trump will decertify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement to Congress Sunday, throwing the future of the deal into question, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Thursday evening.
Decertification of the deal will trigger a 60-day period of review by Congress to determine if sanctions should be reimposed on the regime. Tillerson justified Trump’s decision by noting that the president must certify to Congress every 90 days under the Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015 that sanctions relief is “proportionate” to the limit on the regime’s nuclear program.
The Obama administration restricted its certification requirements to Iran’s technical compliance with the nuclear agreement. “We don’t dispute that they’re under technical compliance,” Tillerson said, noting that the administration finds the deal itself flawed. These flaws include the deal’s “sunset clause” — the lack of mechanism to ensure that Iran does not pursue a nuclear weapon after the expiry date of the agreement, its ongoing ballistic missile program, and continued malign influence in the region.
During the 60-day period of review by Congress, Trump will recommend that Congress amend the Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015 and “place some very firm trigger points,” which would automatically enact sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Trump will also ask Congress to include sanctions which “outlive” the Iran deal after it expires in 10-15 years.
Beyond amending the Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015, the President will also indicate to the deal’s co-signatories that the U.S. is interested in patching up unaddressed areas of the deal, either by reopening the deal or drafting a new follow-on agreement.
“I think what we are laying out here is this is the pathway we think provides us the best platform from which to attempt to fix this deal,” Tillerson said. “I’m not suggesting — we may be unsuccessful and we may not be able to fix it and if we’re not, then we may we out of the deal.”
Decertification of the deal is couched in a broader White House strategy on Iran, which will similarly take aim at the Iranian revolutionary guard corps (IRGC). The IRGC is a paramilitary force operating under command of the Supreme Leader, which is most linked to the regime’s terrorist activity.
Tillerson elaborated that Trump will also announce sanctions on the IRGC and any connected entities, which Secretary of the Treasury Stephen Mnuchin will have “broad latitude” to enforce.
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