Some Democrats who opposed Iran nuke deal now want it upheld

Posted October 13, 2017

This is a dumber option because it is exactly what the Obama administration wanted and what Hillary Clinton would have pressed for if she had won the election: protecting the JCPOA by dropping the prospect of new sanctions, doing away with the certification requirement and answering criticism of the deal by engaging in endless talks with Iran and European diplomats to fix the agreement.

Every 90 days, the president must certify that Iran is still complying with the nuclear accord and that the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, remains in America's national security interest. With the threat of restoring those old sanctions and imposing new ones - as well as the threat of military force - the USA hopes to have new leverage and get Iran to accept changes to the deal.

It gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program in a bid to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. Unilateral U.S. sanctions would entail stringent provisions applying to European Union companies that deal with Iran. North Korea's leaders, meanwhile, would have little incentive to negotiate a nuclear disarmament if they see the Iran deal collapse, he said. The middle ground that these options supposedly represent is an illusion - their sole objective is to ensure that President Trump never withdraws from an agreement he has correctly called an embarrassment to the United States.

Drafts of two proposals seen by The Associated Press, one from Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker and one from committee member and harsh deal critic Senator Tom Cotton, would expand the United States certification criteria to include items that are also the province of the UN nuclear watchdog and require the U.S. intelligence community to determine if Iran is carrying out illicit activity in facilities to which the International Atomic Energy Agency does not have access.

On Wednesday, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran is considering "various scenarios" in response to Trump's "probable withdrawal" from the global nuclear deal.

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.

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.

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Watch Federica Mogherini's full interview with the NewsHour's Judy Woodruff on Wednesday.

What happens if Trump decertifies the deal? But it is a requirement of US law. "It is these security implications that we continue to encourage the consider".

After a meeting in September, Mogherini, who helped broker the 2015 pact, pointed out that all of the countries who signed the deal - including the United States - have found Iran is in compliance with the agreement.

In a Tuesday phone call with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump expressed the need to work together "to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its malign and destabilizing activities, especially its sponsorship of terrorism and its development of threatening missiles", according to the White House.

The Europeans seem more inclined to try to "build" on the deal in this way.

The "we must avoid alienating European leaders" argument is unlikely to sway Mr. Trump since he proved by his decision to withdraw from the equally flawed Paris Climate Accord that he rightly believes Europe does not have a veto over USA foreign policy or his decisions as president.

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.