‘De­cer­tify, pres­sure and fix’

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Mark Dubowitz Mark Dubowitz is CEO of the Foun­da­tion for De­fense of Democ­ra­cies.

De­cer­ti­fy­ing the nu­clear deal with Iran is the first step to­ward fix­ing its se­vere de­fi­cien­cies that place Iran on a North Korean-style glide path to de­vel­op­ing nu­clear weapons and in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles.

De­cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is the first part of a strat­egy to “de­cer­tify, pres­sure and fix.” A 2015 law re­quires the pres­i­dent to cer­tify to Congress ev­ery 90 days not just that Iran is fully im­ple­ment­ing the nu­clear deal, but also that the sus­pen­sion of sanc­tions re­mains vi­tal to U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­ests.

The prob­lem is that the deal’s re­stric­tions will start to ex­pire in a few years be­cause of mul­ti­ple “sun­set” clauses. Ira­nian lead­ers re­peat­edly threaten to deny United Na­tions in­spec­tors ac­cess to the types of mil­i­tary sites where Tehran once con­ducted se­cret nu­clear weapons work. Mean­while, the regime is test­ing nu­clear-ca­pa­ble mis­siles and re­ceiv­ing tens of bil­lions of dol­lars in sanc­tions re­lief to fund for­eign ag­gres­sion and in­ter­nal re­pres­sion.

De­cer­ti­fy­ing the deal does not mean break­ing the deal, nor does it re­quire reim­pos­ing the orig­i­nal nu­clear sanc­tions. Pres­i­dent Trump plans to roll out a com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy to roll back Ira­nian ag­gres­sion and to fix the deal. Law­mak­ers should be pa­tient and hold off, for now, on any ef­fort to re-im­ple­ment orig­i­nal sanc­tions or take Amer­ica out of the deal.

The pres­i­dent’s com­pre­hen­sive pres­sure strat­egy should ap­ply in­stru­ments of fi­nan­cial co­er­cion, in­clud­ing sanc­tions and heavy penal­ties, to all en­ti­ties that fa­cil­i­tate ter­ror­ism, mis­sile devel­op­ment, re­gional ag­gres­sion, cor­rup­tion and hu­man rights abuses. Key tar­gets in­clude the Revo­lu­tion­ary Guards, Hezbol­lah and Iran’s cler­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment. Such mea­sures are fully com­pli­ant with the nu­clear deal, which only bars nu­clear sanc­tions.

The French are al­ready work­ing on ways to fix the agree­ment based on their own con­cerns and their de­sire to keep the U.S. in the deal.

This ef­fort should be given some time to suc­ceed. The in­dis­pens­able first step to­ward that goal is de­cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. It has moved the de­bate on the fa­tally flawed nu­clear deal from “keep it or nix it” to “fix it or nix it.” That’s progress.

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