Last week, the White House was forced to admit that Iran is complying with the P5+1 nuclear deal, but did so while making it very clear they were unhappy about doing so, and making a series of non-specific threats about punishing Iran.
That started the clock anew on another 90 day deadline to certify Iranian compliance, and President Trump has made clear to his aides, as well as the other signatories of the deal, that his goal is to abandon the deal outright at that time.
The problem is that Iran isn’t violating the deal, so President Trump is said to be “increasingly frustrated” with aides not giving him any options, and has explicitly ordered them to come up with some plausible rationale for the US to unilaterally withdraw.
Right now the plan seems to be for the IAEA to make a bunch of unreasonable demands for extra inspections at conventional military sites, even though there is no evidence of any activity there, hoping that at some point Iran will reject one of those demands.
The minute Iran rejects a single demand, no matter how unreasonable or outside the purview of the P5+1 deal, Trump will declare them to be “in violation” of the entirety of the deal, and will withdraw from it at once.
While Trump has long favored unilateral withdrawal, the concern among many officials is that such a brazen move to undermine the hard-fought P5+1 deal might leave the whole rest of the deal’s signatories on Iran’s side, leading to a serious US fallout with the international community, and meaning the deal would effectively go on without America’s involvement.
That concern has been around for quite some time too, but Trump apparently at this point finds it so galling to have to admit Iran is keeping up its end of the bargain he’s willing to move heaven and earth to find some excuse not to.
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