Trump to make case for Iran de­ci­sion

Pres­i­dent to fo­cus on na­tion’s ac­tions be­yond nu­clear pact

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - NATION & WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump plans to de­liver a broad and harsh cri­tique of Iran in a speech Fri­day declar­ing that the land­mark nu­clear deal is not in U.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 non­nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties, four of­fi­cials and ad­vis­ers said. Those in­clude Tehran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram and sup­port for Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad, the Le­banese Hezbol­lah move­ment and other groups that desta­bi­lize the re­gion.

Un­der U.S. law, Trump faces a dead­line Sun­day to no­tify Congress whether Iran is com­ply­ing with the ac­cord that was painstak­ingly ne­go­ti­ated over 18 months by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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 ac­tiv­ity vi­o­lates the spirit of the re­gional sta­bil­ity it was in­tended to en­cour­age, the of­fi­cials and ad­vis­ers said.

The sources, who in­sisted on anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to pub­licly preview the speech, said Trump will not call for a reim­po­si­tion of sanc­tions against 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 the Ira­nian 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, ev­ery three months, on what the pres­i­dent has called the worst deal in U.S. his­tory.

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, the State Depart­ment said.

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

The Ira­nian Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps, 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.”

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