Trump set to bash Iran on non-nuke is­sues in de­cer­ti­fy­ing deal

Houston Chronicle - - NATION | FROM THE COVER - By Mattthew Lee

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump plans to de­liver a broad and harsh cri­tique of Iran in a speech Fri­day declar­ing that the land­mark Iran nu­clear deal is not in Amer­ica’s na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­ests, ac­cord­ing to U.S. of­fi­cials and out­side ad­vis­ers to the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Trump’s speech from the White House will out­line spe­cific faults he finds in the 2015 ac­cord but will also fo­cus on an ar­ray of Iran’s trou­bling non-nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties, four of­fi­cials and ad­vis­ers said. Those in­clude Tehran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram, sup­port for Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad, Le­banon’s Hezbol­lah move­ment and other groups that desta­bi­lize the re­gion.

Un­der U.S. law, Trump faces a Sun­day dead­line to no­tify Congress whether Iran is com­ply­ing with the ac­cord that was ne­go­ti­ated over 18 months by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and de­ter­mine if it re­mains a na­tional se­cu­rity pri­or­ity. Al­though Trump in­tends to say Iran is liv­ing up to the let­ter of the agree­ment, he will make the case that the deal is fa­tally flawed and that its non-nu­clear be­hav­ior vi­o­lates the spirit of the re­gional sta­bil­ity it was in­tended to en­cour­age, the of­fi­cials and ad­vis­ers said.

Won’t seek sanc­tions

The of­fi­cials and ad­vis­ers, who in­sisted on anonymity, said Trump will not call for a reim­po­si­tion of nu­clear sanc­tions on Tehran. He will urge law­mak­ers to cod­ify tough new re­quire­ments for Tehran to con­tinue to ben­e­fit from the sanc­tions re­lief that it won in ex­change for curb­ing its atomic pro­gram. And he’ll an­nounce his long-an­tic­i­pated in­tent to im­pose sanc­tions on Iran’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps by des­ig­nat­ing it a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion un­der an ex­ist­ing ex­ec­u­tive or­der, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cials and ad­vis­ers.

In ad­di­tion, Trump will ask Congress to amend or re­place out­right the leg­is­la­tion that cur­rently re­quires him to cer­tify Ira­nian com­pli­ance every 90 days. Of­fi­cials have said that Trump hates the re­quire­ment more than the nu­clear deal it­self be­cause it forces him to take a po­si­tion on what he has de­nounced as the worst deal in Amer­i­can his­tory every three months. That fre­quency has also ir­ri­tated aides who have com­plained that they are spend­ing in­or­di­nate amounts of time on cer­ti­fi­ca­tion at the ex­pense of other is­sues.

At the White House, Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, con­firmed the pres­i­dent would an­nounce the re­sults of his Iran pol­icy re­view on Fri­day but de­clined to of­fer any de­tail. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son was call­ing for­eign min­is­ter col­leagues from the other par­ties to the deal to brief them on what to ex­pect.

‘Despotic theoc­racy’

But in a pos­si­ble pre­view of Trump’s an­nounce­ment, CIA Direc­tor Mike Pom­peo blasted Iran dur­ing a speech at the Univer­sity of Texas, call­ing Iran’s Min­istry of In­tel­li­gence and Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard “cud­gels of a despotic theoc­racy.”

The IRGC, which is re­spon­si­ble for ex­ter­nal op­er­a­tions, is ex­pand­ing its power across the Mid­dle East, Pom­peo said. “Un­like ISIS and its mi­rage of a caliphate, Iran is now a pow­er­ful na­tion-state that re­mains the world’s largest state spon­sor of ter­ror.”

Amer­i­can al­lies, who have pressed the White House to re­main in the nu­clear ac­cord, will be closely watch­ing the pres­i­dent’s ad­dress. Trump wants to im­press on the Euro­pean par­ties to the ac­cord — Ger­many, France and Bri­tain — the im­por­tance of fix­ing what he sees as flaws in the nu­clear ac­cord and ad­dress­ing bad be­hav­ior not cov­ered in the agree­ment.

The Euro­peans, along with the other par­ties, Iran, Rus­sia and China, have ruled out re­open­ing the deal. But some, no­tably France, have sig­naled a will­ing­ness to tackle un­re­solved is­sues in sup­ple­men­tary ne­go­ti­a­tions. Among those is­sues are the ex­pi­ra­tion of sev­eral re­stric­tions on ad­vanced nu­clear ac­tiv­ity un­der so-called “sun­set clauses” that will al­low Iran to be­gin ramp­ing up its en­rich­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties af­ter 10 years, the end of an arms em­bargo and the eas­ing of de­mands for a halt to its mis­sile pro­gram.

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