Trump decertifies the Iran Deal

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran deal, is a multi-national nuclear agreement between China, Russia, France, Germany, Iran, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States. Adopted in late 2015 and implemented in early 2016, the controversial deal has been subject to criticism from Republicans and praise from Democrats, who view the deal as a landmark foreign policy achievement from the Obama administration.

Since his campaign, President Trump has publicly been in opposition of the Iran deal, frequently calling it one of the worst deals he has ever seen. In an October speech, the president announced plans to decertify the deal; punting the Iran debate to Congress for 60 days. Among their options, Congress could choose to impose new sanctions, try to get other countries to renegotiate the deal, or simply do nothing. President Trump has insisted that he will completely withdraw from the deal if an appropriate plan from Congress is not presented within the 60 day deadline.

In accordance with US law, the president must certify the Iran deal every 90 days. The JCPOA itself has no text regarding presidential certification, but a 2015 law passed by Congress called the Iran Nuclear Reviewment Act (INARA) requires the president to certify that the suspended sanctions against Iran as a result of the JCPOA are “appropriate and proportionate” and “vital to the national security interests of the United States.” The law, which provides Congressional oversight, was passed to appease many Congress members who were skeptical of the deal. The president’s decision to decertify does not formally withdraw the United States from the JCPOA. But, if President Trump chooses to withdraw — or if Congress decides to snap back sanctions on Iranian nuclear programs — the United States will be out of the multi-national deal.
he Trump administration has grudgingly agreed that Iran is technically in compliance with the JCPOA, but have contested that Iran is violating the “spirit” of the deal by aiding the Assad regime and terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and other Shiite led terrorist militias in Syria and Iraq, while also conducting and growing their ballistic missile program. President Trump, in addition to decertifying the deal, directed the Treasury Department to impose sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — a branch of Iran’s Armed Forces founded after the 1979 revolution — for supporting the Assad regime in Syria and other terrorist groups in the Middle East.

Iran’s commitment to the deal has recently come into question after German intelligence reports were obtained by Fox News showing that the Iranian government has attempted to buy nuclear technology illegally 32 times. In a second intelligence report, also obtained by Fox News, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and Sudan are said to use “guest academics” for illegal activities, like the implementation of the enrichment of uranium. This practice includes international research exchanges in academic topics like biology and chemistry, specifically geared towards nuclear proliferation.

Allies of the United States, with the exception of Saudi Arabia and Israel, have expressed disappointment in President Trump’s decision. Germany, the United Kingdom and France, as well as other parties in the JCPOA, expressed their continued, firm commitment to the Iran deal.

However, critics have long contested these countries disproportionately overlook the security risks of the deal because of the immense economic rewards that it reaps for their national economy. According to the German Federation of Industries’ (DIHK) estimates, German exports to Iran will reach up to 10 billion euros in the next three to four years. Before the deal in 2013, due to sanctions imposed by the West, exports were at just 1.8 billion euros.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been fiercely against the Iran deal, consistently speaking out against it, routinely expressing that he views it as an immense threat, especially to the national security of Israel but also to the world.

“I congratulate President Trump for his courageous decision,” said Netanyahu. “[President Trump] boldly confronted Iran’s terrorist regime.”
The response to President Trump’s decision has largely been split along party lines. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has expressed his support for the president’s decision, insisting that the Iran deal is “fatally flawed.” Many Congressional Republicans have applauded the president’s decision and vowed to take on the responsibility on fixing “many serious flaws” of the deal.

“We are committed to work with the president to address these flaws, hold Iran strictly accountable to its commitments, and support efforts to counter all the Iranian threats,” said Representatives Royce, McCarthy, Thornberry and Cheney. “We’ll take an important step to that end on the House floor by passing bills to increase sanctions unrelated to JCPOA that target Iran’s support for terrorism and its ballistic missile program.”

Congressional Democrats, and former members of the Obama administration who worked on constructing the deal, have largely spoken out in opposition to President Trump’s decision. Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who played an integral role in the JCPOA, called President Trump’s decision to decertify the JCPOA one that is starting an “international crisis.” Tim Kaine, a senator from Virginia and the Democratic nominee for vice president in the 2016 presidential election has communicated disappointment in the president’s decision.

“Decertifying the #Irandeal guts US diplomacy,” said Kaine via Twitter. “[Decertification] raises the serious risk of the Trump administration leading us into war.”

The definitive future of the Iran deal, even after decertification, is still up in the air. Multi-pronged pressure is exponentially mounting on the president and Republican lawmakers. Congressional Democrats would predominately like no modification to the deal, as would the other world powers committed to the deal. And while the Republicans control the majority of Congress and their base agrees with an overhaul of the JCPOA, bipartisan support on issues like healthcare and immigration is needed for pushing Republican’s agenda forward to reinforce a majority in the 2018 midterm elections. These factors make the possibility of a quid-pro-quo relationship all the more probable. Saudi Arabia and Israel, two important allies in the Middle East for the United States, are conversely in favor of a total overhaul of the Iran deal to fix concerns within the deal that they view as national security threats.