Trump throws fu­ture of Iran deal to Congress

Of­fi­cials say US Pres­i­dent will not kill ac­cord out­right

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - WORLD - — AFP

WASHINGTON: Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is set to un­veil a more ag­gres­sive strat­egy to check Iran’s grow­ing power, but will stop short of with­draw­ing from a land­mark nu­clear deal or declar­ing the pow­er­ful Is­lamic Revo­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Trump is ex­pected to de­clare the 2015 agree­ment — which curbed Iran’s nu­clear pro­gramme in re­turn for sanc­tions re­lief — is no longer in the US na­tional in­ter­est.

Of­fi­cials say he will not kill the in­ter­na­tional ac­cord out­right, in­stead ‘de­cer­ti­fy­ing’ the agree­ment and leav­ing US law­mak­ers to de­cide its fate.

Trump had re­peat­edly pledged to over­turn one of his pre­de­ces­sor Barack Obama’s crown­ing for­eign pol­icy achieve­ments, de­rid­ing it as ‘the worst deal’ and one agreed to out of ‘weak­ness’.

The agree­ment was signed be­tween Iran and six world pow­ers — Bri­tain, China, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia and the US — at talks co­or­di­nated by the Euro­pean Union.

While the deal stalled Iran’s nu­clear pro­gramme and marginally thawed re­la­tions be­tween Iran and its ‘Great Satan’, op­po­nents say it also pre­vented ef­forts to chal­lenge Ira­nian in­flu­ence in the Mid­dle East.

Ac­cord­ing to a fact sheet re­leased by the White House to set the stage for Trump’s speech, he will rail against Iran’s ‘desta­bil­is­ing in­flu­ence’ on the Mid­dle East, ‘par­tic­u­larly its sup­port for ter­ror­ism and mil­i­tants’.

The strat­egy will seek to shield Is­rael from Iran’s ‘un­re­lent­ing hos­til­ity’ and counter the threat to jall US in­ter­ests and al­lies from Iran’s proxy forces, bal­lis­tic mis­sile devel­op­ment and even­tual nu­clear am­bi­tions.

But the plan as out­lined by the fact sheet does not en­vis­age Washington pulling out of the Iran deal’s Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Ac­tion or JCPOA.

In­deed, ‘the deal must be strictly en­forced, and the IAEA must fully uti­lize its in­spec­tion au­thor­i­ties’.

Since com­ing to of­fice, Trump has faced in­tense lob­by­ing from in­ter­na­tional al­lies and his own na­tional se­cu­rity team, who ar­gued the deal should re­main in place.

In an­other par­tial climb­down, Trump is also ex­pected to levy lim­ited sanc­tions against the Revo­lu­tion­ary Guards, rather than in­vite re­tal­i­a­tion by des­ig­nat­ing it as a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The out­come ‘prob­a­bly re­flects more some of the divisions and de­bates within the ad­min­is­tra­tion’, said for­mer US Mid­dle East en­voy Den­nis Ross.

Apart from run­ning swaths of Iran’s econ­omy and Iran’s bal­lis­tic pro­gramme, the corps is also ac­cused of guid­ing bel­li­cose prox­ies from Hezbol­lah in Le­banon, to the Huthi in Ye­men to Shi­ite mili­tia in Iraq and Syria.

Still, Trump’s tough-guy gam­bit could yet risk un­do­ing years of care­ful diplo­macy and in­creas­ing Mid­dle East ten­sions.

UN nu­clear in­spec­tors say Iran is meet­ing the tech­ni­cal re­quire­ments of its side of the bar­gain, dra­mat­i­cally cur­tail­ing its nu­clear pro­gram in ex­change for sanc­tions re­lief.

Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Hassan Rouhani lashed out at US coun­ter­part say­ing he was op­pos­ing ‘the whole world’ by try­ing to aban­don a land­mark nu­clear agree­ment.

“It will be ab­so­lutely clear which is the law­less gov­ern­ment. It will be clear which coun­try is re­spected by the na­tions of the world and global pub­lic opin­ion,” he added.

And Congress must now de­cide whether to end the nu­clear ac­cord by ‘snap­ping back’ sanc­tions, which Iran de­manded be lifted in ex­change for lim­it­ing ura­nium en­rich­ment.

Many law­mak­ers are wait­ing to see how Trump presents the choice be­fore de­cid­ing whether to keep or tor­pedo the agree­ment.

In a state­ment to AFP, lead­ing Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Marco Ru­bio de­scribed the ac­cord as ‘fa­tally-flawed’ and said he was open to leg­is­la­tion that would ‘sub­stan­tially im­prove Amer­ica’s abil­ity to counter Iran’s nu­clear, ter­ror­ism, mil­i­tancy and regional threats’.

Trump has been rail­ing against the Iran deal since be­fore he was elected in Novem­ber last year.

In of­fice, he has chafed at be­ing re­quired un­der US law to re­cer­tify Iran’s com­pli­ance with the ac­cord ev­ery 90 days, declar­ing that Tehran has bro­ken it ‘in spirit’.

Right up un­til the last minute, the other sig­na­to­ries to the deal have urged Washington not to let it fall apart.

It will be ab­so­lutely clear which is the law­less gov­ern­ment. It will be clear which coun­try is re­spected by the na­tions of the world and global pub­lic opin­ion. Hassan Rouhani, Ira­nian Pres­i­dent

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