Donald Trump set to 'decertify' 2015 Iran nuclear deal

AFP  Brendan Smialowski

Several congressional Democrats who split with President Barack Obama to oppose the nuclear agreement with Iran are now urging President Donald Trump to uphold the global accord, arguing that robust enforcement is the best way to counter Tehran's malign behavior in the Middle East.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reportedly been briefing key lawmakers on the administration's plans over decertifying the nuclear agreement.

Ahead, we break down the implications of that decision and what could come next. He called Trump's move to kick the deal to Congress a "trap" and "a tactic meant to reach the president's goal of tearing the deal apart".

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 U.S. national security interest despite Iran's technical compliance. There was always the chance he could still have a last-minute change of heart and certify Iran's compliance with the 2015 accord, which he has called an "embarrassment" and the "worst deal ever negotiated".

European officials have categorically ruled out renegotiating the deal, but have said they share Trump's concerns over Iran's destabilizing influence in the Middle East.

"If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago", he told the Wall Street Journal shortly after certifying the deal in July.

Trump, who pledged during his campaign to rip up the Iran deal, has recertified it twice since taking office in January and hates having to do so.

If Trump decides to decertify Iran's compliance, as expected, Congress will have 60 days to decide whether to "snap back" sanctions that were lifted in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear program. But that's something no one on Capitol Hill seems inclined to do.

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.

Serious concern has been growing on the possible United States administration's withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal.

"I expect President Trump will not certify it", said Elizabeth Rosenberg, an Iran expert at the Center for a New American Security, a progressive think tank.

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Mogherini 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. "Once it was entered into, once it was implemented, we want to see it enforced". She said, "It is not a deal you can easily open and renegotiate".

"Either the [nuclear agreement] will remain as-is, in its entirety, or it will no longer exist", Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said last month at the United Nations.

It's not clear whether America's European allies would go along with a renegotiation, either. He also wants to toughen language on ballistic missiles and inspections.

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy today urged the president not to decertify the Iran nuclear deal.

Even so, some experts told CNBC that decertification will undermine the worldwide deal and encourage hardliners in Tehran to push for nuclear weapons. If those sanctions are put back into place, the JCPOA would be considered breached.

Trump threatened during the presidential campaign to tear the pact up if he was elected. That could include Iran pulling out of the deal as well and restarting uranium enrichment activities, or Iran could stay in the deal and try to drive a wedge between the US and its allies.

Who says they are not holding up their end of the deal?

In this environment, many Democrats believe working on the periphery of the deal could be the congressional equivalent of destroying the village to save it.

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

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 U.S., according to the officials.

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