In a speech that indicates the adoption of a more confrontational foreign policy with Iran, President Trump announced on Friday that he will not be recertifying the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, further hinting that he may choose to terminate it all together if his standards are not met.
“History has shown that the longer we ignore a threat, the more dangerous that threat becomes,” the president said. He went on to accuse Iran of committing “multiple violations of the agreement,” though officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency, a number of European allies, and even senior ranking officials within his own cabinet have all stated otherwise in public statements.
Last week, Secretary of Defense, James Mattis told the Senate that he thought maintaining the deal was in the best interest of the United States, but he did temper his statement by explaining that he would suggest otherwise if there was evidence to suggest Iran was no longer holding up their end of the bargain.
If we can confirm that Iran is living by the agreement, if we can determine that this is in our best interest, then clearly we should stay with it,” Mattis told the Senate. “I believe, absent indications to the contrary, it is something that the president should consider staying with.”
President Trump’s decision not to recertify the deal still allows for the possibility that it could remain intact, contrary to complaints levied by some of the other signatory members of the agreement. If the United States completely withdrew, the deal could feasibly live on through the remaining members, but it seems unlikely, as the U.S. levied additional sanctions against the aggressive state.
We cannot and will not make this certification. We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout,” the president said. “I am directing my administration to work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deal’s many serious flaws so that the Iranian regime can never threaten the world with nuclear weapons.”
Some of those flaws, in particular, include “sunset” provisions President Trump suggested could mean some limits on Iran’s nuclear programs could expire, and its loose restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program. Iran has continued to develop arguably nuclear capable ballistic missile platforms since the 2015 agreement was signed. If these issues are not addressed, Trump stipulated, he would cancel the U.S.’s involvement in the deal.
“In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated. It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me as President at any time.”
Although many proponents of the agreement will likely oppose the president’s decision not to recertify the deal this month, his decision not to pull American involvement from it all together could be seen as a viable middle ground, in which Trump can press for the changes he feels are appropriate and feasibly maintain the deal, which intends to prevent Iran from further developing nuclear arms.
Many have drawn comparisons between the Iran deal and a potential method the U.S. could use to broker peace with North Korea. Some have expressed concerns that President Trump terminating the deal could hamper chances at that negotiated peace with Kim Jong un’s regime, as Kim may see the termination as a sign that an agreement between the two nations may not be lasting.
Image courtesy of the Associated Press