Trump’s Assault on JCPOA Much Ado About Nothing

Trump’s Assault on JCPOA Much Ado About NothingTrump’s Assault on JCPOA Much Ado About Nothing

A lawmaker said the so-called "new strategy" laid out by US President Donald Trump regarding the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Friday was in line with what Washington had pursued in the past, saying his posture was "predictable" for the Islamic Republic.

Mojtaba Zolnouri, a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, also described Trump's decision not to terminate the deal, despite having the authority to do so, as a delaying tactic to maintain uncertainty, noting that the US Congress would tread on the same path, ICANA reported on Saturday.

In a vituperative speech on Friday, Trump announced that he would not certify the agreement to the congress, but stopped short of immediately canceling US participation in the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

In 2015, US senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin helped pass bipartisan legislation requiring the president to certify the nuclear deal's validity to the congress every 90 days. The bill was basically a way for skeptical lawmakers to assert some control over an accord that former US president, Barack Obama, had not negotiated as a treaty, which would have required Senate approval.

Trump twice heeded the advice of his foreign-policy advisors and grudgingly certified the agreement, but he refused to do so for the third time.

He has not done so on the grounds that Iran is violating the "spirit" of the agreement. Instead, Trump is citing a provision of the Corker-Cardin law, officially known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which asks whether the lifting of sanctions imposed to curb Iran's nuclear program is in America's national-security interests. The Trump administration is essentially saying it is not.

However, declining to certify is not synonymous with ripping up the agreement. It would not make the United States non-compliant with the accord. What it does is to punt the Iran debate to congress that has 60 days to introduce legislation to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, revise the deal or simply do nothing.

  Definitive Step by Congress Unlikely

Zolnouri said the probable outcome seems to be the third option where the congress would work in fits and starts regarding the deal—imposing some sanctions and restrictions but eventually refraining from coming up with a definitive response as to keep the deal or walk out of it.

"This approach would not be something new for the Islamic Republic and was predictable," he said.

Iran has always argued that the non-nuclear US sanctions, which are still in force, as well as Washington's indirect, and at times direct, intimidation campaign has made international banks and major companies wary of dealing with Iran, something Iran maintains runs counter to the "spirit of the deal".

Pointing to the lengthy process awaiting the fate of the deal, a pair of US senators unveiled a plan on Friday to change the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.

The bill, authored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and Senator Tom Cotton, aims to add some "triggering mechanism" to the deal where sanctions would be reimposed if Iran would be deemed less than one year away from obtaining a nuclear weapon, something known as "one-year breakout".

Asked what will define what a one-year breakout time is, Corker said that will be worked out in the committee process but will not be subjective.

Zolnouri concluded that any unilateral action by the US cannot torpedo the deal, as Europe and the international community are backing Iran's stance, leaving Washington isolated in case it insists on pursuing its "irrational approach".


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