On Friday, President Donald Trump threatened to remove the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, one that holds Iran’s nuclear program in limbo, if Congress and U.S. allies fail to agree on strengthening and fortifying the accord. One of Trump’s top campaign pledges, to remove the United States from the Iran nuclear agreements that he considers to be inadequately negotiated, became more in reach when he unveiled a new policy towards “the rogue regime of Iran.”
“I’ve ordered a complete strategic review of our policy. Today I am announcing our strategy along with several major steps we are taking to confront the Iranian regime’s hostile actions and to ensure that Iran never, and I mean never, acquires a nuclear weapon,” said Trump in his speech.
The original deal, known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (INARA), was announced by Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union. It places limits on Tehran’s nuclear program until 2030. The goal of the deal was to reduce Iran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel as well as the country’s capacity to produce new fuel; this way it would take at least a year for Iran to manufacture enough fuel needed for an atomic weapon.
Under the current deal, Iran can keep its nuclear facilities but is limited in production and two of Iran’s facilities had to be converted into research sites without fissile material. The number of centrifuges and its low-enriched uranium stockpile also had to be reduced. Finally, Iran had to agree to redesign a heavy-water reactor at Arak that wouldn’t produce plutonium.
The Trump administration is pressing Congress to halt Iran’s ballistic-missile testing as well as requesting that conditions are set to address Iran’s support of Lebanon, Syria and Yemen militias. The administration also has requested that Congress clearly state that the United States will place sanctions if different “trigger points” were reached.
“In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, the agreement will be terminated,” Trump said in a speech. “It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me as president at any time.”
According to the Washington Post, Congress has an assortment of different routes it could take while handling the deal, the most extreme being to reimpose U.S. sanctions that were lifted as part of the agreement. In effect, this would cause the United States to violate the deal. Another option would be to have lawmakers amend the INARA in order to place new U.S. requirements on Iran, which is what Trump is currently asking Congress to do. A problem that could arise is how the deal would be seen by Iran: as one-sided. The revised plan would likely not be accepted. Congress could also “simply change the timetable so the president doesn’t need to certify Iran’s compliance every 90 days, as it now required.” This could potentially be more acceptable to Trump, but it would ultimately prove that the deal he criticized heavily in his campaign is working.
After Trump’s speech on the Iran nuclear deal, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani spoke out saying that Trump could not decide the end result of the deal just by himself.
“This is an international, multilateral deal that has been ratified by the UN Security Council. It is a UN document. Is it possible for a President to unilaterally decertify this deal? Apparently, he’s not in the know,” said Rouhani in a live address.
According to CNN, through the opinion of his national security advisers, Trump has been recommended to avoid wholly withdrawing from the agreement. Some of Trump’s advisors and foreign equivalents warned that a complete removal would separate the United States and allow an opening for Iran to reassess its commitments on reducing nuclear stockpiles.
Russian state-run TASS reported on Friday that Iran’s Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani stated Iran may withdraw from the nuclear agreement if the United States does.
Both France and Britain leaders confirmed their commitment to staying in the nuclear accord.