In a speech on Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he will not be certifying the Iran nuclear deal, accusing Iran of not “living up to the spirit” of the deal they signed in 2015 limiting their nuclear program, while calling on Congress to fix the deal or reject it.
“Today, I am announcing our strategy, along with several major steps we are taking to confront the Iranian regime’s hostile actions and to ensure that Iran never, and I mean never, acquires a nuclear weapon,” the president said unequivocally.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal that was brokered by former President Barack Obama with Iran and first signed in 2015, has to be recertified by the president every ninety days and the next deadline is October 15. While not entirely rejecting the deal, the president called on Congress to rework the agreement, a task they have 60 days to complete.
“I am directing my administration to work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deal’s many serious flaws so that the Iranian regime can never threaten the world with nuclear weapons,” President Trump said in his speech. “However, in the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated.”
President Trump accused Iran of spreading “death, destruction, and chaos all around the globe”.
“Our policy is based on a clear-eyed assessment of the Iranian dictatorship, its sponsorship of terrorism, and its continuing aggression in the Middle East and all around the world,” he said.
Echoing his campaign rhetoric, he referred to the JCPOA as ” one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”, calling for “negotiators who will much more strongly represent America’s interest”.
President Trump called for a joint, multi-national effort in bringing economic sanctions on Iran in order to limit Iran’s missile program and to prevent them from gaining a nuclear weapon. Reinstituting sanctions would abrogate the U.S. side of the bargain, effectively ending the agreement. Referring to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as the “Iranian Supreme Leader’s corrupt personal terror force and militia”, he targeted that branch of the Iranian government for U.S. Treasury sanctions.
In a press briefing with reporters before the president’s speech, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained that the new approach to the JCPOA will address Iran’s ballistic missile program, an aspect that was missing from the original deal. Future agreements will also cope with Iran’s role in conflicts throughout the Middle East, according to Tillerson.
In a Facebook Post, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the U.S. president’s decision.
“I congratulate President Trump for his courageous decision. He boldly confronted Iran’s terrorist regime,” Netanyahu said. “If the Iran deal is left unchanged, one thing is absolutely certain:In a few years time, the world’s foremost terrorist regime will have an arsenal of nuclear weapons. And that’s a tremendous danger for our collective future.”
“President Trump has just created an opportunity to fix this bad deal, to roll back Iran’s aggression and to confront its criminal support of terrorism. That’s why Israel embraces this opportunity.And that’s why every responsible government and any person concerned with the peace and security of the world should do so as well.”