US Expected to Recertify Iran's JCPOA Compliance

US Expected to Recertify Iran's JCPOA ComplianceUS Expected to Recertify Iran's JCPOA Compliance

The US administration is expected to again certify Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal, possibly as early as Monday, even as it continues to review the broader US policy regarding the Islamic Republic.

"The [US President Donald] Trump administration is currently conducting a comprehensive review of our Iran policy," a US State Department official told Al-Monitor in a recent talk.

"Once we have finalized our conclusions, we will meet the challenges Iran poses with clarity and conviction. The Trump administration has made clear that at least until this review is completed, we will adhere to the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and will ensure that Iran is held strictly accountable to its requirements."

The US State Department last certified Iran's compliance with the deal on April 18. A new certification, which keeps the US Congress from initiating its own review of whether to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions, has to be made every 90 days.

The Weekly Standard reported on Thursday that the second certification under Trump was forthcoming and that the White House had started calling congressional offices to alert them about the decision. The conservative magazine said the Trump administration expects to finalize its Iran policy review by the end of summer.

  Differing Views

It also said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis have argued for certifying Iran's compliance, while White House strategy chief Steve Bannon has argued for exiting the deal.

Ahead of the July deadline, four Republican senators, namely Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, David Perdue and Marco Rubio, wrote to Tillerson last week to urge him not to certify Iran's compliance. They cited alleged violations of JCPOA-imposed limits on heavy water stocks, among other things, as evidence that Iran has "consistently violated" the terms of the deal.

Washington's European allies have pressed the United States to stick with the landmark nuclear deal, which was reached two years ago in Vienna after years of negotiations.

"The JCPOA is not perfect, but it is much, much better than the other options," a senior European official said, stressing that he and his colleagues have been telling the same to the Trump administration. "The JCPOA is a reasonable way to address the [nuclear] issues … Let's implement the JCPOA in a robust manner."

"The nuclear deal doesn't belong to one country; it belongs to the international community," EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said in a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Brussels last Tuesday. "We have the responsibility to make sure that this continues to be implemented."

A group of 38 retired US generals and admirals, meanwhile, wrote an open letter to Trump last Wednesday expressing their strong support for the nuclear deal.  The retired officers applauded the parties' compliance with the landmark nuclear deal and urged the Trump administration to pursue diplomatic engagement with Iran as a means of de-escalating tensions.

"We urge your administration to recognize the national security benefits of the nuclear agreement and appropriately weigh the risks to our troops of escalating tensions with Iran," they wrote.

The certification debate comes as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is in New York for meetings at the United Nations. It is unclear if Zarif would have any encounters with US diplomats while he is in the United States.

Asked if Tillerson had spoken with Zarif, state department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said she did not think so.

"I do not believe that he has," Nauert told journalists at the State Department on Thursday. "We certainly have various diplomatic channels, lines of communications that can be used" if the US needs to get a message across to Iran.

"No meetings planned," Zarif told Al-Monitor by email on Thursday.  


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