US President Trump expected to unveil new strategy on Iran ahead of deadline on nuclear deal
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                  US President Trump expected to unveil new strategy on Iran ahead of deadline on nuclear deal

                  US President Trump expected to unveil new strategy on Iran ahead of deadline on nuclear deal

                  10.10.2017, Israel and the World

                  US President Donald Trump is expected to announce this week whether or not he will certify to the Congress that Iran is in compliance with the July 2015 nuclear deal. The deal was signed by Iran and the P5+1 (US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany).

                  Under the terms of the deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), Iran agreed to temporary nuclear restrictions and close monitoring, in return for the lifting of most international sanctions. Key restrictions on Iran’s uranium enrichment are in place for 10-15 years.

                  Although on 31 August the international nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed (for the eighth consecutive time) that Iran has not deviated from its nuclear obligations, and on 14 September the Trump administration continued to waive nuclear-related sanctions as required by the JCPOA.

                  Officials in the American administration have suggested that Trump will unveil a new Iran strategy with a range of measures to tackle Iran’s activity in the region.

                  US legislation requires the President to certify to Congress every 90 days whether or not Iran is implementing the nuclear agreement. The next deadline is the 15 October.

                  US media reports last week said that President Trump plans not to certify that Iran is in compliance with the agreement but on Friday the White House said President Trump would announce a new US response to Iran’s missile tests, support for “terrorism” and cyber operations.

                  There have also been reports that Congress could impose new targeted sanctions against entities involved in the Iranian ballistic missile programme, destabilising activities in the region, and support for Iranian-backed terrorism.

                  Another option being considered by the US administration is to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group in US law. The US has already put the Quds Force, the IRGC’s foreign espionage and paramilitary wing, and individuals and entities associated with the IRGC on the US list of foreign terrorist organisations.

                  Last month, Trump told the UN General Assembly the JCPOA was an “embarrassment” and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United State has ever entered into.”

                  The EU and its member states are trying to save the deal with the British, French, German and European Union ambassadors to the United States are to participate Wednesday in a meeting on Capitol Hill with Democratic senators.

                  The meeting is part of an ongoing effort by Democrats in Congress and other officials who support the nuclear pact to bolster support for the deal by spelling out the consequences of its collapse.

                  In a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his British counterpart, Theresa May said the UK remained committed to the nuclear accord with Iran and praised its importance.

                  A spokesman for Downing Street said May noted to Netanyahu “the importance of the nuclear deal with Iran which has neutralized the possibility of the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons for more than a decade.”

                  May told Netanyahu, a vocal opponent of the deal, that the UK remained “firmly committed” to it and that it was “vitally important for regional security,” adding that Iranian compliance with the accord should be “carefully monitored and properly enforced.”

                  In his speech to The United Nation General Assembly, Netanyahu has urged a “fix it or nix it” approach to the deal, telling the UN that the accord will pave the way for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons if it is not scrapped or altered.

                  Netanyahu singled out for criticism the deal’s so-called sunset clause, which will lift limitations on Iran’s nuclear program when the accord expires in over a decade.

                  “Nixing the deal means restoring massive pressure on Iran, including crippling sanctions, until Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons capability,” Netanyahu told the UNGA. “Fixing the deal requires many things, among them inspecting military and any other site that is suspect, and penalizing Iran for every violation. But above all, fixing the deal means getting rid of the sunset clause.”

                  Such an approach is reportedly being adopted by US President Donald Trump, who is set to give an Iranian policy speech this week in which he will likely announce that he will not recertify the accord to Congress.

                  Trump, who has called the Islamic Republic a “murderous” regime, will speak ahead of an October 15 deadline to report to Congress on whether Iran is complying with the agreement.

                  The move would trigger a 60-day congressional review period to consider the next steps for the United States, which signed onto the accord along with Iran and five other states.

                  In his speech, Trump is expected to declare the nuclear agreement contrary to America’s national security interests.

                  “Decertification” of the deal with Iran could lead Congress to reintroduce economic sanctions on Iran that were suspended under the deal. If that happens, Iran has threatened to walk away from the arrangement and restart activities that could take it closer to nuclear weapons.

                  EJP