Top Story: President Trump Decertifies Iran Deal

President Trump decided finally that he would not recertify the Iran deal on Friday. Instead of directly reimposing sanctions, however, Trump is asking Congress for a new bill that would describe conditions for which sanctions could resume. The framework being decided on by Bob Corker (R-TN), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, and Tom Cotton (R-AR), describes several breakout points, such as Iran reaching a threshold of 1 year breakout time, or the amount of time it takes to synthesize the fissile material for a nuclear weapon. President Trump has also been exceedingly critical of the sunset provisions in the deal, as well as the provisions that force him to certify the deal, which is embarrassing to him as he personally campaigned on how bad he thought the deal was.

The problem the president and his administration have is that according to the IAEA, Iran is complying with the deal. The Trump administration says that Iran is “skating” around non compliance, and cites issues that were not related to the deal, such as ICBM development, and funding of terrorist groups. The problem with that formulation is that they don’t have anything to do with the JCPoA, which is tightly focused on Iran’s Nuclear activity. In fact, new sanctions may violate the deal itself, or in the words of a former Obama advisor, “Trump is demanding that allies and Congress go along with him in violating the Iran Deal at a time when Iran is complying. Provoking crisis”

The other parties to the deal are not following Trump’s lead, even America’s allies. Emmanuel Macron, President of France, had advised Trump against decertification, as had British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. There is a real worry that America’s reliability is not as robust as it once was; that our global influence is on the wane. One of the big problems with decertification while Iran is stated to be in compliance by the regulators is that the other parties will refuse to step up the sanctions regime. While Iran has made some transactions with U.S. businesses, such as a $20 billion deal with Boeing, the United STates still has other sanctions on Iran. The main markets that Iran is interested in is Europe and China, and if they do not reimpose sanctions, than the United States has a problem. Sanction allies and business partners, or walk away and look feckless?