Trump to make case for Iran decision
President to focus on nation’s actions beyond nuclear pact
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.”