Friday, 20 October, 2017

Iran nuclear deal: How Trump's plan to pressure Tehran could play out

AFP  Brendan Smialowski AFP Brendan Smialowski
Wilma Wheeler | 13 October, 2017, 00:32

The Iranian nuclear deal - the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA - called for Iran to impose limits on nuclear research and cut back on enriching uranium.

Political observers have warned that any unilateral action by the United States based on unsupported claims of Iranian non-compliance would isolate Washington, impede future efforts for other nonproliferation agreements in the broader worldwide community and increase the likelihood of a wider conflict in the Middle East. Second, it appears that moderate Senate Republicans will side with Democrats to block passage of any sanctions that could endanger the Iran deal.

As Common Dreams reported Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that new sanctions or any other violation of the nuclear accord would effectively kill the deal and earn the US condemnation from "the entire world".

News reported the White House briefed lawmakers Wednesday on the pending decision and those who left were convinced the Obama-era nuclear deal would get decertified. Trump's strenuous opposition to the agreement forged by the Obama administration - which Trump criticized during the campaign as the worst deal ever - means any attempt to change the conditions would be interpreted by Tehran as an effort to blow it up.

She said that USA would lose global trust "because a deal that America voted for just two years ago in the UN Security Council with a resolution unanimously adopted, a deal that America helped to shape enormously, enormously, would be rejected by the same country".

She pointed to other worldwide agreements that the United States has abandoned but the rest of the world has remained committed to, including the Paris Agreement on climate change, and said, "What will happen would simply be that the USA will contravene a UNSC resolution and the rest of the world will stick to it".

Trump allies who oppose the deal have watched the president closely to see if he might buckle under pressure.

France, Germany and Britain, despite their opposition to Washington backing away from the deal, have told US lawmakers that they could join discussions on constraining Iran's long-term nuclear ambitions, according to one congressional Democratic aide.

Even more than the actual deal, Mr Trump detests the certification requirement, which forces him to sign off every three months on an accord he has called the worst deal ever negotiated by the USA, according to the officials.

If Trump follows through and decertifies the deal on Friday, it will begin a 60-day countdown clock for Congress to decide whether to "snap back" those nuclear sanctions.

After Trump made clear three months ago he would not certify Iran's compliance with the deal, his advisers moved to give him options to consider, a senior administration official said.

Former Obama administration officials who played central roles in brokering the Iran nuclear agreement briefed congressional Democrats later Wednesday on the merits of the worldwide accord. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., would demand that the intelligence community produce judgments on a wide range of Iranian behavior that is not covered by the nuclear deal, including ballistic missile testing and development and threats to Israel and the Mideast more broadly. She said, "It is not a deal you can easily open and renegotiate. We may have to array our forces to prepare for. calibrated strikes".

However, media reports said that the president might pull out of the Iranian nuclear agreement.

Even so, some experts told CNBC that decertification will undermine the global deal and encourage hardliners in Tehran to push for nuclear weapons.

Trump threatened during the presidential campaign to tear the pact up if he was elected.

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