For the second time, the Trump administration on Monday certified that Iran remains in compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Administration officials stressed, however, that they remain dissatisfied with the flawed nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration and are concerned with Iran’s malign policies, which violate the spirit of the agreement.
The Trump administration, which is required to report to Congress on Iranian compliance with its nuclear commitments every 90 days under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, previously certified Iran’s compliance in April.
Like the last certification, this one also was accompanied by a new round of sanctions levied by the U.S. Treasury Department against Iranian individuals or organizations that are linked to the illicit procurement of equipment or technology for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or military.
The Trump administration’s talking points on the certification issue noted that:
- The previous administration’s insistence on ignoring, excusing, and downplaying the full range of Iran’s malign activities was a mistake that jeopardized American interests.
- The Trump administration will not make that mistake.
- Even as we continue to work to prevent Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon, we will not look away while Iran threatens the U.S. and our allies outside the nuclear realm.
The talking points also made clear that the administration remained focused on the shortcomings of the nuclear agreement, which President Donald Trump criticized as the “worst deal ever made” during his presidential campaign.
Congressional pressure is building on the Trump administration to terminate or renegotiate the Iran nuclear agreement. Last week, four senators opposed to the nuclear deal wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, warning that “[w]e believe that a change in policy is long overdue.”
Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Ted Cruz, R-Texas; David Perdue, R-Ga.; and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., urged Tillerson not to certify that Iran is complying with its nuclear commitments. They also made the case that sanctions relief for Iran is not in the vital interests of the United States.
Trump has ordered a comprehensive review of U.S. policy on Iran that will focus on these and other issues, which is set to be finished by the end of summer.
The conclusions of that policy review will determine how the administration will handle the next certification deadline in mid-October.
At that point, the White House will have to stop punting on the Iran nuclear issue and forge a coherent policy for dismantling or correcting the flaws of the Iran nuclear agreement.
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