Trump to ‘decertify’ Iran nuclear deal next week: report
President Trump plans to “decertify” the Iran nuclear deal next week and announce that it is not in the United States’ national interest, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Such an announcement would leave the next move up to Congress, which would have 60 days to use a fast-track process to reimpose sanctions and deliver a potentially fatal blow to the deal, which Tehran agreed to in 2015 with the U.S. and five other nations.
Trump faces an Oct. 15 deadline to tell Congress whether Iran remains in compliance with the Obama-era nuclear accord, which gave Tehran billions of dollars of sanctions relief in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.
The deadline is part of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which also says the president must tell Congress whether suspension of sanctions remains vital to the national security interests of the United States.
According to the Post, which cited individuals briefed on an emerging White House strategy, Trump has tentatively scheduled an Oct. 12 speech to lay out a larger strategy on Iran that would open the door to modifying the agreement but hold off on recommending Congress reimpose sanctions.
The Post’s sources cautioned that plans are not fully set and could change.
The White House would not confirm the speech or its contents, the newspaper reported.
Trump has repeatedly bashed the Iran deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, calling it “an embarrassment” and promising on the campaign trail to tear it up.
But the international body overseeing the deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has said Iran remains in compliance, as have Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford.
Administration officials in favor of keeping the deal in place have been looking for a way to split the difference between saving the deal and saving face for Trump.
Mattis hinted at a congressional hearing this week at the idea of decertifying Iran’s compliance while leaving sanctions relief in place.
“We have two different issues,” Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee. “One is the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and one is what Congress has passed, and those two are distinct but integral with each other. As you look at what the Congress has laid out at a somewhat different definition of what’s in our best interest, and therein lies, I think, the need for us to look at these distinct but integral issues the way the president has directed.”
Trump said last month he had made a decision on the deal, but refused to say what it entailed. On Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated that Trump has made a decision and will announce it at the “appropriate time.”