Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

The art of the nuclear deal

The art of the nuclear deal

Under U.S. law, the administration has to certify whether Iran is complying with the deal and if it is in the country's national security interest to remain in it, every 90 days.

Officials familiar with the internal deliberations as well as informed sources outside the administration say they expect Mr Trump to tell lawmakers that the Iran deal is not in the United States national security interest despite Iran's technical compliance.

Engel said the U.S. would lose any leverage it has with allies in the deal if it abandons the JCPOA.

This might also embolden hardliners in Iran to pressure its moderate regime to withdraw from the agreement, breaking up what was a remarkable worldwide agreement that ultimately helped Iranian citizens weather a period of economic recession and limited its nuclear programme for peaceful purposes.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron both spoke to Trump this week to express their concerns about the potential decision not to recertify the Iran deal. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, are wary of decertification because it would constitute a "material breach" of the agreement and could destroy it.

Doing so has kept the U.S.in compliance with the accord, but because it's purely an issue of US law, decertification does not matter for the deal itself.

The agency quotes Zarif as saying that if the United States acts against the deal, Iran will offer a "tougher response".

Two other USA officials, who also requested anonymity, said Trump's bellicose rhetoric on a number of fronts is troubling both many of his own aides and some of America's closest allies, a few of whom have asked US officials privately if Trump's real objective is attacking Iran's nuclear facilities. "We also have to tell the Americans that their behavior on the Iran issue will drive us Europeans into a common position with Russian Federation and China against the United States of America".

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.

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The White House is seeking to extend or eliminate the expiration date for so-called "sunset" provisions, which limit the amount of uranium Iran is allowed to enrich. "Once it was entered into, once it was implemented, we want to see it enforced".

But several key Democrats suggested there might be room to negotiate with Republicans about beefing up the deal without eviscerating it.

"There is no technical nor political space to renegotiate this deal", Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told PBS Wednesday.

Trump is expected to decline this week to certify Iran's compliance in the 2015 agreement, referring it to Congress. If those sanctions are put back into place, the JCPOA would be considered breached. "S. intelligence agencies showing Iran in active or significant violation of the JCPOA", NCG's letter concludes. He also is expected to target the country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard with new sanctions.

Mogherini said, "Once that we have an agreement that is functioning, that is working, that is delivering, the worst thing you can do is trying to dismantle it, also because you would show the way to others that making deals actually is not worth it, because the message that America would send to the rest of the world is that America cannot be trusted upon".

MoveOn.org is holding a "Stop a War With Iran" rally in front of the White House Thursday to declare that "diplomacy is working" and to "denounce Trump's decision to bring us closer to war".

But it could be hard to get both Iran and its ally, Russia, back to the table for a new round of talks.

Trump's administration, which took over a year after the nuclear agreement had come into force, has repeatedly attacked the agreement and desperately sought a pretext to scrap or weaken the deal.

What exactly that will look like is still being determined, but it could include greater congressional oversight.

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