Iran nu­clear deal hangs on Trump’s whim

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PFEFFER

PRES­I­DENT DON­ALD Trump says he has al­ready de­cided whether or not to de­cer­tify the Ira­nian nu­clear agree­ment struck un­der his pre­de­ces­sor Barack Obama — but won’t re­veal what that de­ci­sion is.

He cer­tainly hasn’t hid­den his opin­ion on the agree­ment. In his ad­dress to the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly last Tues­day he de­scribed it as “one of the worst and most one-sided trans­ac­tions the United States has ever en­tered into.”

Next month he has an op­por­tu­nity to sus­pend it. The White House has to in­form Congress whether Iran is in com­pli­ance with the deal — if not, Congress will then have 60 days to re-im­pose the sanc­tions on Iran that were can­celled fol­low­ing the deal that was signed in July 2015.

There are two main ob­sta­cles fac­ing Mr Trump if he chooses to go down that path. First, the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency, which mon­i­tors Iran’s com­pli­ance, has al­ready re­ported that Tehran is stick­ing to the agree­ment. Sec­ond, the other sig­na­to­ries to the deal — Bri­tain, Rus­sia, China, Ger­many and France — are all op­posed to can­celling or chang­ing it.

As seen with the Paris cli­mate treaty, the pres­i­dent is pre­pared to take on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and pull out of treaties, but there is a pos­si­ble al­ter­na­tive be­ing dis­cussed in Washington.

The Iran deal fo­cused solely on the is­sues di­rectly con­nected to nu­clear de­vel­op­ment and re­search and did not reg­u­late other Ira­nian weapons pro­grammes or re­gional ac­tiv­i­ties. Tehran claimed over the week­end to have launched a long-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile; US in­tel­li­gence says it picked up no in­di­ca­tion of the test, but it would have been in con­tra­ven­tion of a sep­a­rate UN res­o­lu­tion rather than this deal. The same is true of Iran’s sup­port and weapons sup­plies to groups like Hezbol­lah, Ha­mas, Is­lamic Ji­had and the Houthi fighters in Ye­men.

By po­si­tion­ing it­self this way, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion could cre­ate the lev­er­age for new in­ter­na­tional mea­sures against Iran on weapons de­vel­op­ment and sup­port for ter­ror or­gan­i­sa­tions. That would put pres­sure on Tehran while leav­ing the Iran deal in­tact for now.

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