In a move he talked about during the presidential campaign, President Donald Trump said Friday he is not recertifying the Iran nuclear deal. It set off a predictable political firestorm and a 60-day process for Congress to debate the issue.
Trump said, “As I have said many times, the Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Based on the factual record I have put forward, I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification.”
The original Iran nuclear deal was negotiated and signed during the Obama administration. It was never brought forth for Senate consideration. It has since been a subject of much debate. Cries that the agreement did not go far enough have echoed from Washington to Israel.
The deal must be recertified every 90 days by the sitting U.S. president. Not doing so is not the same as withdrawing from the agreement. Trump’s stand on Friday demands the terms be reviewed to his liking or he will tear it up.
Trump said, “The regime remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The regime’s two favorite chants are ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel.'”
He cited the deal provided Iran with “a political and economic lifeline,” alluding to the $1.7 billion that the U.S. gave to Iran as part of the agreement. “I wonder where all that money went.”
The president referenced both the flaws he sees in the agreement and also Iran’s violations of it since it was made official in January 2016. “The Iranian regime has committed multiple violations of the agreement,” he said. “For example, on two separate occasions they have exceeded the limit of 130 metric tons of heavy water. Until recently, the Iranian regime has also failed to meet our expectations in its operation of advanced centrifuges.”
Trump chided Congress saying if they are unable to come up with language and terms that, in his view, improve the agreement, he will take action to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement. “It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me as president at any time.”
The White House’s new Iran policy hits hard on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Trump reiterated they have participated in and funded terrorism over the years. He said, “It (IRGC) has hijacked large portions of Iran’s economy and seized massive religious endowments to fund war and terror abroad.”
He also mentioned the IRGC’s activities in sending missiles and other weapons to Syria and planning and launching terror attacks overseas and in the U.S. The IRGC has interfered with American warships in the Persian Gulf on several occasions in recent years.
One incident in particular angered Trump during his presidential campaign. The IRGC had taken ten U.S. sailors hostage in a January 2016 incident that Iran claimed took place after two U.S. Naval boats strayed into Iranian waters. The sailors were released 15 hours later.