President Trump took a step on Friday to remove the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran and five other world powers by refusing to certify the historic accord but political challenges remain on the horizon for the Trump administration that will soon discover that unwinding a nuclear deal worked out by his predecessor will be a major undertaking and could isolate the U.S. further from the world community.
According to U.S. law, President Trump must certify Iran’s compliance with certification every 90 days.
Now Congress has 60 days to decide if sanctions on Iran should be re-imposed or else left intact.
In mid-July 2015 the U.S. joined China, France, Great Britain, Germany, and Russia working out a historic nuclear accord with Iran that greatly curtailed its nuclear program by reducing its uranium stockpile by 98 percent and keeping its level of uranium enrichment at 3.67 percent, dramatically below the enrichment level needed to create a bomb, in exchange for relieving $100 billion in sanctioned Iranian assets that were previously frozen.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), not the U.S., is responsible for monitoring Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord.
The IAEA hasn’t discovered any compliance problems with Iran, according to the 8 reports that have already been issued since January 2016.
On Friday President Trump claimed from the Diplomatic Reception Room that former U.S. President Obama lifted sanctions on Iran “just before what would have been the total collapse of the Iranian regime” and described the 2015 nuclear accord as “highly controversial” and one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into as a nation.
President Trump criticized the international inspection process against Iran when he announced, “we got weak inspections in exchange for no more than a purely short-term and temporary delay in Iran’s path to nuclear weapons” and cited two separate occasions when Iran exceeded the limit of 130 metric tons of heavy water.
He also claimed that the Iranian regime “intimidated international inspectors into not using the full inspection authorities that the agreement calls for.”
The IAEA which is responsible for inspecting Iran’s compliance is a respected internal organization and hasn’t issued any major report that documents Iran’s non-compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord.
President Trump falsely stated on Friday that “Iran can sprint towards a rapid nuclear weapons breakout,” a claim that simply isn’t supported by any solid facts on the ground and runs contrary to what nuclear scientists have already concluded after reviewing the terms of the 2015 nuclear accord that greatly diminishes Iran’s capability to develop nuclear weapons.
Prior to the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, war hawks in the Republican Party were discussing taking a military response in Iran over its nuclear program; however, after the 2015 nuclear accord was negotiated, Iran’s capacity to develop nuclear weapons was greatly diminished and the war drumbeat against Iran slowly dissipated.
Iran continues to maintain its ballistic weapons which is permitted under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that was approved following the 2015 historic nuclear accord.
UN Security Council Resolution 2231 requires Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology, and approves on a case by case basis the “supply, sale or transfer directly or indirectly from their territories of ballistic missiles” in addition to the “provision to Iran of any technology or technical assistance or training, financial assistance, investment, brokering or other services, and the transfer of financial resources or services, or Iran’s acquisition of an interest in any commercial activity in another State.”
Tehran maintains that its ballistic weapons program is meant for defensive purposes.
President Trump’s plan of action against Iran veers away from the detailed terms of the 2015 nuclear and focuses on neutralizing Iran’s influence and aggression, especially its support for terrorism and militants.
According to Trump’s strategy plan, he declared that the Iranian regime has “taken advantage of regional conflicts and instability to aggressively expand its regional influence and threaten its neighbors with little domestic or international cost for its actions” while admitting that Tehran is trying to establish a bridge from Iran to Lebanon and Syria.
The Trump administration declared that their Iran policy “will address the totality of these threats from and malign activities by the Government of Iran and will seek to bring about a change in the Iranian’s regime’s behavior” while placing more emphasis on reducing the influence of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that was described as not accountable to the Iranian people and only answering to Supreme Leader Khamenei.
President Trump’s strategic plan states that the IRGC has armed Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria, influenced the Houthis in Yemen, and has tried to gain control over large portions of Iran’s economy, choke off competition, and work to weaken and undermine Iran’s neighbors through the perpetration of chaos and instability.
President Trump is targeting the historic 2015 nuclear accord for Iran’s expansive influence and role in the Middle East, although he will have an uphill battle convincing Democrats on Capitol Hill and Europeans already invested in the nuclear accord that terminating the 2015 nuclear deal is the best way forward to confront Tehran.
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