Overnight Defense: Trump says he's made decision on Iran deal | Navy needs $600M to fix damaged ships | Watchdog sues administration over chemical attack warning

Overnight Defense: Trump says he's made decision on Iran deal | Navy needs $600M to fix damaged ships | Watchdog sues administration over chemical attack warning
© Getty

THE TOPLINE: Trump on his second day at the United Nations General Assembly said he has already decided whether or not to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, but declined to share his decision publicly.

"I have decided," Trump told reporters Wednesday.

Pressed about his decision, the president responded, "I'll let you know what the decision is."

The president's comments are the clearest sign yet he is close to announcing a decision on the 2015 pact between Iran and six world powers.


Trump a day earlier called the Iranian nuclear deal negotiated under the Obama administration an "embarrassment."

Trump faces an Oct. 15 deadline to certify whether the Iranian government is honoring the terms of the deal. If he decides Tehran has violated them, Congress has 60 days to decide whether to restore sanctions related to its nuclear program that were waived under the agreement.

Trump has repeatedly bashed the Obama-era agreement as weak, saying it has allowed Iran to continue its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The Hill's Jordan Fabian has more here.


NBC News reported late Wednesday that President Trump is inclined to decertify the nuclear accord with Iran, putting the responsibility on Congress to determine if the U.S. will exit the deal.

The report, citing four sources, said that should Trump shift the decision to Congress, he will push European powers to renegotiate parts of the agreement.

Some of the sources who spoke to NBC noted that the president could alter his decision in the coming weeks. One possibility, according to the report, is that Trump will provide the European powers with 90 days to sign on to renegotiations with Tehran.

The Hill's Mallory Shelbourne has more here.


Trump's statements come as the top general of U.S. Strategic Command said Wednesday, that Iran is "operating under the agreements the we signed up for under the" deal.

"But at the same time they are rapidly, rapidly deploying and developing a whole series of ballistic missiles and testing ballistic missiles at all ranges that provide significant concerns to not just the United States, but our allies," added Gen. John Hyten at a Hudson Institute event.

Read about that here.


MATTIS TOUTS ALLIANCES DAY AFTER TRUMP SPEECH: Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump identifies first soldier remains from North Korea | New cyber strategy lets US go on offense | Army chief downplays talk of 'Fort Trump' Pompeo backed continued US support in Yemen war over objections from staff: report Stand with veterans instead of predatory for-profit colleges MORE on Wednesday stressed the importance of international cooperation just one day after President Trump said in his first speech to the United Nations that he would prioritize U.S. interests.

Mattis during an Air Force conference in Maryland pointed to the international coalition of 69 nations working to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as an example of successful partnerships with other nations. 

He also called for the U.S. to be more open to alternative ideas from its allies abroad in remarks at the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference in Maryland Wednesday morning.

"Never did I fight in an all-American formation. I've always fought alongside coalition partners," Mattis said. 

Read more here.


VA FIRES FORMER DC MEDICAL DIRECTOR FOR A SECOND TIME: The Department of Veterans Affairs has fired the former director of the Washington, D.C., medical center for a second time using new measures approved by Congress over the summer.

"We at VA will use the authorities available to ensure our veterans get the highest quality service and care possible," VA Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinVeterans group sues to block advisers known as ‘Mar-a-Lago Crowd’ from influencing VA Mar-a-Lago insiders provided input on VA policy, personnel decisions: report Ahead of speech, Kansas City newspaper urges Trump to listen to veterans MORE said in a statement Wednesday. "This is the right decision for veterans in D.C., and employees at the medical center, and underscores our commitment to hold employees accountable if they fail to do their jobs or live up to VA's values."

Brian Hawkins was fired in July after it was revealed he had sent sensitive information to his wife's personal email account.

Prior to that, in April, he was removed from his post as director of the D.C. medical center and reassigned to administrative work after a scathing inspector general report found patients at the center were being endangered due to widespread management, inventory and staffing 

The Hill's Rebecca Kheel has more here.


NAVY MUST ASK CONGRESS FOR $600M TO FIX SHIPS: Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer said Wednesday that the service will need to ask Congress for hundreds of millions of dollars to repair two combat ships destroyed in unexpected collisions this summer.

The Navy needs the damaged guided-missile destroyers USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald back in the Pacific "as quick as we can," requiring an estimated $600 million not included in the upcoming fiscal 2018 defense budget.

"We're going to have to go back up on the Hill, because that's outside budget numbers," Spencer told reporters at the Pentagon. "It's going to have to be sooner rather than later."

The Senate this week passed its version of the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act bills and now must hammer out a compromise bill with the House, which passed its defense legislation in July. Neither bill earmarked funds to repair the ships damaged in unexpected collisions.

Read more here.


WATCHDOG GROUP SUES ADMINISTRATION OVER CHEMICAL ATTACK WARNINGS: A watchdog group on Wednesday filed suit against the Trump administration in an attempt to reveal whether the White House consulted Pentagon officials before publicly warning of a potential Syrian chemical weapons strike in June that never took place.

Democracy Forward filed a suit in the District of Columbia district court after the Department of Defense (DOD) "refused to reveal" whether such talks happened before then-press secretary Sean Spicer on June 26 warned of an "imminent" chemical weapons strike, according to a Democracy Forward statement.

The White House said at the time it had "identified potential preparations" for the strike, which "would likely result in the mass murder of civilians" if conducted. The strike never took place, but administration officials later credited the White House statement with stopping the supposed attack.

Read the rest here.



-- The Hill: Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyTrump Jr. to Dem Senator: 'You admitted to hitting your wife so hard it gave her a black eye!' Haley wasn’t invited to key White House meeting on refugee policy: report Nikki Haley: New York Times ‘knew the facts’ about curtains and still released story MORE acknowledges sometimes she has to 'clarify' Trump tweets

-- The Hill: Iran-linked hackers targeting Saudi petrochemicals and aerospace dealings

-- The Hill: Trump leaning toward decertifying Iran deal, putting on Congress: report

-- The Hill: Russia: America using actor Morgan Freeman to push anti-Moscow message

-- The Hill: Iranian president blasts Trump's UN speech: 'Ignorant, absurd and hateful'

-- The Hill: Haley: Trump 'has to speak up' on 'very paranoid' Kim Jong Un


Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Kheel, rkheel@thehill.com, and Ellen Mitchell, emitchell@thehill.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @thehill@Rebecca_H_K@EllenMitchell23