Trump’s Expected Iran Move Would Defy Allies Abroad — And At Home

 In World
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Trump’s expected Iran move would defy his allies abroad — and at home

Later this week, President Trump will announce his administration’s position on the Iran nuclear deal, and the expectation is that he’ll decertify the deal, saying that it’s not in the country’s national interest. But decertification would put Trump at odds with much of the rest of the world — as well with members of his own national security team — at a time when the United States is trying to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Defense Secretary James Mattis

ANGUS KING: Secretary Mattis, very quick, short-answer question — do you believe it’s in our national security interest at the present time to remain in the JCPOA [Iran nuclear deal]? That’s a yes or no question.

MATTIS: Yes, senator, I do.

(October 3, 2017 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing)

Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford

“Iran is not in material breach of the agreement, and I do believe the agreement to date has delayed the development of a nuclear capability by Iran.”

(October 3, 2017 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing)

British Prime Minister Theresa May

“The [prime minister] reaffirmed the UK’s strong commitment to the deal alongside our European partners, saying it was vitally important for regional security.”

(A May spokesperson’s readout of her call yesterday with Trump)

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel

“[W]e do not want to see this agreement damaged… We urge the White House not to call into question such an important achievement that has improved our security.”


In addition to those comments, Trump’s administration has already certified the agreement twice (on April 18 and July 17), and the International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran is abiding by the agreement.

It all raises the question: What are the consequences of the United States decertifying something that the rest of the world says is working when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program? How do America’s European allies react? What does Iran do? And what does it mean for the United States’ push to restrain North Korea’s nuke program?

Decertification wouldn’t mean that the United States is formally ending the Iran nuclear deal. But withholding certification, as NBC News reported last week, would trigger a sanctions review process in Congress. And so it would be up to Congress to decide whether to slap sanctions on Iran — which would effectively tear up the deal — or not to.

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