Officials familiar with the situation say that President Trump is intending to “decertify” the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran ahead of the October 15 deadline. With no evidence Iran is violating the deal in any way, he is going to instead claim it is just “not in the national interest of the United States” to honor the deal’s terms.
This has much the same effect as falsely claiming Iran to be in violation, as it would put the nuclear deal up for a vote in Congress. Though Congress has long expressed opposition to the deal, it’s likely to be controversial to cancel it years after its implementation for literally no reason.
President Trump is to give a speech surrounding the matter, expected next Thursday, and will lay out a broad strategy of confronting Iran, trying to blame them for all Middle East instability and terrorism. This would both be aimed at justifying the decertification, and setting the stage for another flurry of sanctions and threats to attack Iran.
Officials say that President Trump won’t explicitly urge Congress to abrogate the deal, but will try to use the threat of doing so as leverage to force more onerous terms on Iran. Iran and other parties to the deal have ruled out renegotiating it, noting how difficult it was to get everything agreed to by everyone in the first place.
If the US does withdraw from the deal, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean the deal will be dead. It is entirely possible that the rest of the P5+1 nations and Iran will continue to leave the deal in place without the US.
That’s been a concern since Trump first started campaigning on withdrawing from the deal. In withdrawing, the US loses a seat at the table for managing the deal, and risks isolating itself diplomatically. That the measure is being taken without a specific reason is going to add to the damage it does to the ability of the US to negotiate deals in general, with the expectation that anything the US agrees to could quickly be dishonored on a president’s whim.
And despite Trump’s vow to make the deal “better,” it’s not clear there is anything the rest of the world could conceivably offer that would satisfy him, given his problems with the deal are mostly that it involves Iran. This too suggests there will be no serious consideration of “revising” the deal.
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