WASHINGTON, September 20, 2017 – President Trump has reached a decision on how to proceed with the Iran nuclear deal, but has not publicly said what that decision is. Pundits speculate that he will let Congress make the final decision on the deal.
A move by Trump to withdraw from former President Obama’s essentially unilateral deal with Iran – without Congressional consent – would trigger a 60-day window for Congress to decide whether to reimpose sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program. Those sanctions were lifted as part of Obama’s 2015 agreement.
Trump had vowed to end the nuclear deal multiple times on the campaign trail. During his United Nations speech he raised that prospect again, calling the agreement an “embarrassment” to the United States. The president’s likely intent is to convince the United States’ European allies to agree to renegotiate some provisions and force Iran back to the table.
However, many international leaders are pressuring Trump to not withdraw. In an interview with CNN, French President Emanuel Macron warned it would be a “big mistake” if the United States pulled out of the deal.
Obama’s former Secretary of State John Kerry made the strange observation that withdrawal from the Iran agreement would encourage North Korea to ramp up its own nuclear program.
United Nations inspectors confirm that Iran has complied with the nuclear deal thus far. However, President Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tehran may be in “technical compliance” of the deal, but is violating its “expectations.” These include Iran’s military and financial support for the Assad regime in war-torn Syria.
Tillerson said the U.S. has been “making the case” to increase pressure on Iran and that other countries are “now looking more carefully and seriously” at doing so as well
In his remarks to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Trump is the one threatening to violate the agreement, claiming Trump is making unfounded accusations as reflected in his own speech before the U.N. earlier in the week. Trump called the Obama-era deal aiming to curtail Iran’s nuclear program “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions” in history.
In addition to requiring the support – or at least acquiescence – of Iran, any reopening of negotiations on this deal would also require support from Russia and China.