GOP chairman eyes move to lock in Trump's Iran deal withdrawal

GOP chairman eyes move to lock in Trump's Iran deal withdrawal
© Greg Nash

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeLankford to be named next Senate Ethics chairman Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Gabbard calls for congressional inquiry over Afghanistan war report MORE (R-Okla.) said Tuesday he’d like to include language in the annual defense policy bill that codifies President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Inhofe was speaking to reporters in his office about a congressional delegation trip last month that included stops in Germany, Israel, Kosovo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Algeria.

Throughout the trip, Inhofe, a Trump supporter, said he found that countries such as Iran were “waiting Trump out."

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“They think he’s going to be defeated,” Inhofe said. “The Iranians are waiting to reestablish the deal that [former Secretary of State] John KerryJohn Forbes KerryUN chief warns unchecked climate change will mean 'survival of the richest' Conservatives rip FBI over IG report: 'scathing indictment' Live coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill MORE made, and they’re all assuming that he’ll be out of office.”

To address that, Inhofe argued, Congress needs to codify what it can of actions Trump has taken, particularly support for Israel’s military and the withdrawal from the Iran deal.

“Both of those thing we can pass in the Senate,” Inhofe said. “It’s not going to be quite as easy to pass in the House. … I’ll be doing that, and we’ll be addressing that.”

Pressed further on whether there will be something in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to make Trump’s Iran deal withdrawal permanent, Inhofe said, “mhm.”

Asked for elaboration by The Hill, a spokeswoman for Inhofe said putting language in the NDAA codifying the Iran deal withdrawal is a goal of his, but that he’s flexible on the exact form since his priority is ultimately getting the NDAA passed.

Such language would likely be a nonstarter in the Democratic-controlled House, with which the Senate will have to negotiate to get the NDAA to the president’s desk.

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Trump announced last year he was withdrawing the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed all the sanctions that had been lifted as part of the deal.

The agreement, reached by the Obama administration with Iran, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia, gave Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Regional experts have said Iran continues to abide by the terms in the nuclear deal in part because they are hoping Trump is a one-term president and that his successor will return to the accord. 

International inspectors said last month Iran remains within the key limits of its nuclear activities imposed by the deal.