Trump plans to de­clare Iran deal not in na­tional in­ter­est

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS - By Anne Gearan

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump plans to an­nounce next week that he will “de­cer­tify” the in­ter­na­tional nu­clear deal with Iran, say­ing it is not in the na­tional in­ter­est of the United States and kick­ing the is­sue to a re­luc­tant Congress, peo­ple briefed on an emerg­ing White House strat­egy for Iran said Thurs­day.

The move would mark the first step in a process that could even­tu­ally re­sult in the re­sump­tion of U.S. sanc­tions against Iran, which would blow up a deal lim­it­ing Iran’s nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties that the coun­try reached in 2015 with the U.S. and five other na­tions.

Trump is ex­pected to de­liver a speech, ten­ta­tively sched­uled for Oct. 12, lay­ing out a larger strat­egy for con­fronting the na­tion it blames for ter­ror­ism and in­sta­bil­ity through­out the Mid­dle East.

Un­der what is de­scribed as a tougher and more com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach, Trump would open the door to mod­i­fy­ing the land­mark 2015 agree­ment he has re­peat­edly bashed as a raw deal for the United States. But for now he would hold off on rec­om­mend­ing that Congress reim­pose sanc­tions on Iran that would ab­ro­gate the agree­ment, said four peo­ple fa­mil­iar with as­pects of the pres­i­dent’s think­ing.

All cau­tioned that plans are not fully set and could change. The White House would not con­firm plans for a speech or its con­tents. Trump faces an Oct. 15 dead­line to re­port to Congress on whether Iran is com­ply­ing with the agree­ment and whether he judges the deal to be in the U. S. na­tional in­ter­est.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion looks for­ward to shar­ing de­tails of our Iran strat­egy at the ap­pro­pri­ate time,” said Michael An­ton, spokesman for the White House na­tional se­cu­rity coun­cil.

Other peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the nine-month re­view of U.S. mil­i­tary, diplo­matic, eco­nomic and in­tel­li­gence ap­proaches to­ward Iran spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause as­pects of the pol­icy are not yet set and Trump has not an­nounced his de­ci­sion.

Trump’s se­nior na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers agreed within the past sev­eral weeks to rec­om­mend that Trump “de­cer­tify” the agree­ment at the Oct. 15 dead­line, two of those peo­ple said.

That would start a 60day con­gres­sional re­view pe­riod to con­sider the next steps for the United States. On its own, the step would not break the agree­ment among Iran, the United States and other world pow­ers, but would start a clock on re­sum­ing sanc­tions that the United States had lifted as its part of the deal.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has be­gun dis­cussing pos­si­ble leg­is­la­tion to “strengthen” the agree­ment, con­gres­sional aides and oth­ers said. That is the “fix it or nix it” ap­proach sug­gested by both Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu and Sen. Tom Cot­ton, R-Ark., a lead­ing Repub­li­can hawk on Iran.

It is an un­cer­tain prospect, and many sup­port­ers of the deal con­sider it a dodge.

Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani said last month that he will not re­open the deal for ne­go­ti­a­tion.

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