President Trump & Iran

Deal Making and Deal Breaking

How will the Trump administration handle the controversial Iranian nuclear deal? Quibbl lets you know what strategic moves to watch for.    

By Jonathan Silverman

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With the world’s gaze fixed on Pyongyang, will Tehran suddenly become a flashpoint?

As per the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, the recurring 90-day deadline for the American President to check in with Congress on whether Iran is in compliance with the Iran Nuclear Deal is approaching on October 15, 2017. A determination that the country is violating the terms it agreed to allows Congress re-impose sanctions on the Iranian regime. Such a move might be welcome by President Trump, a frequent critic of the deal: “Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the U.S. came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion.”

After certifying compliance at both of his first opportunities, the President recently instructed staffers to explore a case for withholding re-certification. This occurred after a reportedly-tense meeting between the President and Secretary of State Tillerson, who stated he had no other option at the time but to continue to certify Iranian compliance. President Trump may have been upset over not receiving multiple options from his staff.  Alternatively, he may be intend to apply pressure to Iran, a nation still on the US State department list of largest state sponsors of terrorism in 2016.

Former deputy national security advisor James  Jeffrey, currently of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, speculates that the President’s posturing is  “… part of the logic of Trump — to raise questions about whether America will adhere to this deal or blow it up, and therefore put pressure on firms around the world not to deal with Iran, because what Trump doesn’t want is an economically healthy Iran, because the more economically healthy Iran is, the more money it has and the more it puts money into its nefarious regional activities”.

In October, will the President tell Congress that Iran is noncompliant? Quibbl here.

If consensus builds against the agreement, there is more than one way out of the deal. One possible strategy was elucidated by Senate Foreign Relations committee chair Bob Corker (R-TN) when he recently mentioned, “…I know we’re asking to get into various facilities in Iran.  If they don’t let us in, boom”.  In August, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley implored the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to seek access to Iranian military bases.  The Iranians adamantly refused, dismissing the suggestion outright. Thus far IAEA inspectors have not pressed the issue of inspecting military bases, but they certainly could. In the event of an inspection that reveals the Iranians to possess enriched uranium, the Trump administration could claim cause to end the deal.

Do you you think IAEA inspectors will ask to see Iranian military sites?  Quibbl here.

As if taking a cue from North Korean missiles program provocation in defiance of US warnings, Iran announced on Saturday that they are boosting the country’s missile export program to shore up the military capabilities of neighboring allies. The move comes after Tehran drew new sanctions from the Trump administration last July when the nation conducted a ballistic missile test.

As the dramatic situation in North Korea continues to unfold, will President Trump shift focus and tweet about Iran this week?  Quibbl here.

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