President Trump apparently will wait for another day to “rip up” the Iran deal, as he promised on the campaign trial.
Late Monday three senior officials said the Trump administration would formally certify by midnight that Iran is in compliance with the restrictions on its nuclear program under the 2015 deal negotiated with the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany. The action keeps in place sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for its continued freeze of its weapons program.
By law, every 90 days the administration has to decide whether Iran had fulfilled its obligations under the pact brokered by the Obama administration. Trump made the first such certification earlier this year.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “will make certification today on behalf of the president,” a senior administration official told reporters late Monday, that the accord’s terms agreed to in Geneva, Switzerland, two years ago “have been met based on the information available to the United States as of today.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision before it was formally announced and Congress was informed.
Tillerson also plans to criticize Iran, saying it “remains one of the most dangerous threats to U.S. interests and to regional stability” and “is unequivocally in default of the spirit” of the agreement, the official said.
The U.S. has criticized Iran for supporting the government of Bashar Assad in Syria and fomenting unrest in Yemen and elsewhere in the region.
In addition, Tillerson will push to more strictly enforce the deal, impose additional restrictions and eliminate the aspect of the deal that allows Iran to resume some nuclear production after 10 years, the official said.
The U.S. in considering new sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program as well as its “fast boat” program in which Iran uses small vessels to harass U.S. Navy patrol boats in the Persian Gulf, the official said.
“I think you all know that the president has made very clear that he thought this was a bad deal, a bad deal for the United States,” Sean Spicer told reporters Monday.
Pulling out of the deal would upset allies who helped negotiate the deal and force the administration to come up with another strategy to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, a problem it is far from fixing in North Korea.
The deal was agreed to by Iran, the European Union, Germany, and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States.
Yet the deal is very unpopular among many conservatives. John Bolton, an influential former ambassador, called for immediate withdrawal in an opinion column published Sunday in the Hill.
“The administration should stop reviewing and start deciding,” he wrote.