Condemning Iran as a “fanatical regime”, President Donald Trump today threatened to terminate the landmark Iran nuclear deal if Congress and US allies fail to amend the agreement in “significant ways”. In his hard-hitting speech from the White House, Trump accused Iran of violating the spirit of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
He said that Iran has “committed multiple violations” of the nuclear deal which among other things allows Tehran to continue and advance its nuclear weapons programme.
Trump announced that he would not continue to certify the agreement to Congress, but stopped short of immediately cancelling US participation in the deal and left its fate in the hands of Congress. “I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said in a live address to the nation.
A presidential certification to the Congress is must avoid American sanctions on Iran. Trump said if he is “not able to reach a solution working with congress and our allies”, then the “agreement will be terminated”.
It is under continuous review and American participation can be canceled by him as president at any time, Trump said.
Claiming that there are many flaws in the deal, Trump announced that he “cannot and will not” make the certification under the JCPOA.
The Iran nuclear deal was signed by Iran and 5+1 group of countries (Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany) in 2015 under which Iran agreed to freeze its nuclear programme for 15 years in exchange for sanctions relief.
He also accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism and said he would deny the regime “all paths to a nuclear weapon”. “History has shown that the longer we ignore a threat, the more dangerous that threat becomes. We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout,” Trump said.
Trump said his policy is based on a clear-eyed assessment of the Iranian dictatorship, its sponsorship of terrorism, and its continuing aggression in the Middle East and all around the world. “Iran is under the control of a fanatical regime that seized power in 1979 and forced a proud people to submit to its extremist rule. This radical regime has raided the wealth of one of the world’s oldest and most vibrant nations, and spread death, destruction, and chaos all around the globe,” he said.
Observing that his new strategy addresses the full range of Iran’s “destructive” actions, Trump said his administration will work with US allies to counter the regime’s “destabilising activity” and support for terrorists’ proxies in the region. “We will place additional sanctions on the regime to block their financing of terror. We will address the regime’s proliferation of missiles and weapons that threaten its neighbours. And finally, we will deny the regime, all paths to a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Trump also announced several major steps his administration is taking in pursuit of this strategy. This he said begins with the long overdue step of imposing tough sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
He authorised the Treasury Department to further sanction the entire IRCG for its support for terrorism and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents and affiliates. He also urged American allies to join the US in taking strong actions to curb Iran’s continued dangerous and destabilizing behavior, including through sanctions outside the Iran deal that target the regime’s ballistic missile program in support for terrorism and all of its destructive activities of which there are many.
Trump alleged that the “saddest part” of the nuclear deal for the United States is that all of the money was paid up front, which is unheard of. “The Iranian regime has committed multiple violations of the agreement. For example, on two separate occasions, they have exceeded the limit of 130 metric tonnes of heavy water. Until recently, the Iranian regime has also failed to meet our expectations in its operation of advanced centrifuges,” he said.
The Iranian regime has also intimidated international inspectors into not using the full inspection authorities that the agreement calls for, he said.
Iranian officials and military leaders have repeatedly claimed they will not allow inspectors onto military sites, even though the international community suspects some of those sites were part of Iran’s clandestine nuclear programme, he alleged. “On the grave matter of Iran’s nuclear programme, since the signing of the nuclear agreement, the regime’s dangerous aggression has only escalated. At the same time, it has received massive sanctions relief while continuing to develop its missiles programme.”
Iran has also entered into lucrative business contracts with other parties to the agreement, he noted.
Stating that when the agreement was finalised in 2015, the Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act to ensure that its voice would be heard on the deal, he said among other conditions, this law requires the president to certify that the suspension of sanctions under the deal is appropriate and proportionate to measure and other measures taken by Iran to terminate its illicit nuclear programme.
Trump said he is directing his administration to work closely with Congress and its allies to address the deals many serious flaws so that the Iranian regime can never threaten the world with nuclear weapons.
Ahead of Trump’s speech, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump will ask lawmakers to come up with legislation that would automatically re-impose sanctions that were lifted under the deal should Iran cross any one of numerous nuclear and non-nuclear “trigger points.”
Noting that Iran’s nuclear programme is of big concern, he said but there are also many more immediate concerns that the US has with Tehran’s destabilising activities in the region.
This includes their support of terrorist organisations, regional destabilising activities and their export of foreign fighters throughout the region to destabilise areas in support of other terrorist activities. “We are concerned about addressing those elements which by and large have gone unaddressed in the past. On the one hand, we want to examine the nuclear agreement understand how we can use that in a very productive and forceful way but also how do we address all of these other issues,” Tillerson said.
Earlier, the White House while announcing President Trump’s new Iran strategy, said the US will revitalise its traditional alliances and regional partnerships as bulwarks against Iranian subversion and restore a more stable balance of power in the region.