Trump and his allies are ready to sabotage the Iran deal

Trump and his allies are ready to sabotage the Iran deal
Mon Jan 29, 2018 14:40:17

President Donald Trump has punted the fate of the Iran nuclear deal to Congress, vowing to terminate the multilateral accord by mid-May if his unrealistic demands are not met.

Nationalinterest--  By issuing ultimatums from the White House while outsourcing the work to Congress, Trump has set up a process that can seemingly only fail. The United States cannot simply legislate new demands to an international agreement and the current Congress lacks the political wherewithal to approach the matter seriously. One need look no further to back up this claim than the first Iran bill in line with Trump’s demands, offered by Reps. Peter Roskam and Liz Cheney and backed by the hub of Iran nuclear deal opposition at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. It is such an unrealistic piece of legislation that the only rational way to explain it is as part of a broader approach to ensure the termination of the deal.

The fact that Trump is in the White House should not give a free pass to such recklessness, particularly when it has to do with war and peace and nonproliferation in the Middle East. Serious legislators and policymakers must step up to warn against the path that Trump and his lackeys in Congress are leading us down, while taking what actions are available to try to preserve the accord.

Far from altering the deal, the Roskam-Cheney bill would force the United States to materially breach the agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It does so by mandating a series of certifications every ninety days on activities beyond the scope of the JCPOA to forestall the snapback of nuclear sanctions, a move that would kill the deal.

The bill would reimpose the sanctions that the United States committed to lift under the JCPOA in ninety days if Iran does not ratify the IAEA Additional Protocol in that time, a step that is not required by the deal until October 2023. Sanctions would also snap back if Iran ever moves above 130 tons of heavy water, which is not strictly limited by the JCPOA and is far less important than other areas of the agreement, such as inspections and enrichment. Moreover, if Iran undertakes any launches utilizing ballistic missile technology—an area outside the JCPOA—the legislation would snapback sanctions. Given Iran’s frequent rhetoric ruling out inspections of military sites, a position that has been bent in practice, it is also far from clear that Trump would certify that Iran has not “denied . . . anywhere, anytime” inspections as mandated by the bill.

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