US Congress Ignores Trump’s JCPOA Deadline

White House aides say Trump is rankled by the lack of progress in congress and will likely pull the US out of the nuclear deal when it comes up for review on Jan. 13
Donald TrumpDonald Trump
A Republican legislative push to establish new "triggers" that could reimpose harsh sanctions on Iran lifted under the nuclear deal had gone nowhere ahead of the Tuesday deadline

The US Congress seems to have missed what was widely seen as a deadline to deal with US President Donald Trump's demand for a harder line on the Iran nuclear agreement, failing to agree on new sanctions against Tehran and punting the future of the deal back to Trump.

A Republican legislative push to establish new "triggers" that could reimpose harsh sanctions on Iran lifted under the Obama-era deal had gone nowhere ahead of Tuesday—the end of a 60-day unofficial deadline set by Trump for Capitol Hill to weigh in on the situation after he declared he could no longer certify JCPOA was in the US national interest, Washington Times reported.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the formal name of the nuclear deal.

Congressional aides say lawmakers still have time to propose something before Trump is mandated to decide again whether to weigh in on the deal, but White House aides say the president is rankled by the lack of progress on Capitol Hill and will likely pull the United States out of the deal when it comes up for review on Jan. 13.

In October, Trump called on congress and American allies who are signatories to the 2015 accord, namely Britain, France and Germany, to address what he claimed are the deal's "serious flaws", including its failure to reimpose sanctions should Iran continue to carry out ballistic missile tests.

Russia and China also signed the accord and, to date, none of the other signatories has followed the US lead in trying to overhaul the agreement.

UN monitors have also repeatedly said Tehran is honoring the letter of the 2015 agreement in curtailing its nuclear programs.

***Trump's Frustration

"Come January, the president may be extremely frustrated that neither congress nor the Europeans have responded to his request for ways to fix the deal," Mark Dubowitz, an analyst on Iran sanctions, said in an interview.

"It's entirely possible at that time that the president will walk away from the deal."

According to a law enacted by congress in 2015, the US president must certify every 90 days that Iran is honoring the deal and that it is in the US national interest. Trump, in the early days of his administration, twice formally certified Iran's compliance, but he clearly chafed at seeming to endorse an agreement that he harshly criticized on the campaign trail last year.

He made clear his unhappiness when announcing his Iran deal decision two months ago.

"In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated," Trump said on Oct. 13.

The deal "is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time".

Some of Trump's top aides, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, have advocated staying in the deal out of concern about the negative effects an American pullout could have on Middle East security and on US allies that remain committed to the deal.

Aides to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker say he is negotiating with key lawmakers such as Senator Ben Cardin, the panel's ranking Democrat, and Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican who is one of the most prominent critics of the deal on Capitol Hill, to meet Trump's demands for legislative action.


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