At the White House on Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced he “cannot and will not” certify that Iran is complying with its nuclear agreement. Trump said that Iran has committed “multiple violations of the agreement,” was “not living up to the spirit of the deal.” The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that Iran is complying with the deal, under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for reduced economic sanctions.
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015requires the U.S. president to recertify Iran’s compliance with the agreement every 90 days. Trump has certified it twice before, most recently on July 17. If the president does not certify compliance by Sunday, Congress would have 60 days to consider re-imposing sanctions on Iran and ending U.S. participation in the agreement.
The nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was put in place in 2015 after two years of negotiations. Iran and six other nations signed it: the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. The agreement required Iran to give up about 98 percent of its enriched uranium, to allow nuclear inspections and it also prohibited the country from producing nuclear weapons. The deal’s limit on Iran’s nuclear fuel production is scheduled to expire in 2031 under a so-called “sunset” provision. In exchange for agreeing to the restrictions, the U.S., European Union and other members of the United Nations lifted some sanctions on oil and other products from Iran.
In Trump’s announcement on Friday, he said there were “flaws in the deal,” including: “insufficient enforcement,” the existence of the “sunset” clauses and “near total silence on Iran’s missile programs.” Trump said he would work with Congress to address these points. On Thursday, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), released a proposal to impose sanctions on Iran if it violated certain restrictions, or if U.S. intelligence agencies assessed that Iran was less than a year away from producing a nuclear weapon.
Trump said if “we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated. It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me as President at any time.”
During his speech on Friday, Trump said he authorized the Treasury Department to sanction the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) for supporting “terrorism.” The department designated the IRGC as a “terrorist” group on Friday. The State Department has not put the IRGC on its list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Sources: The New York Times, CNN, BBC, White House
Jens Erik Gould
Jens is a political, business and entertainment writer and editor who has reported from a dozen countries for media outlets including The New York Times, National Public Radio and Bloomberg News