Noises coming out of Washington in recent weeks have suggested the US Administration is preparing a series of options to “deal” with Iran’s nuclear deal.
With the latest deadline of 15 October for the President to ‘certify’ Iran’s compliance, or not, with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), all of the briefings coming out of DC indicate that President Trump is set to take action on a deal that he has regularly criticised.
Most recently, speaking in front of the UN General Assembly last month, Trump said the deal “was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”, labelling it an “embarrassment”.
Since his Presidency began, Trump has reluctantly certified the deal on two occasions, but ahead of the latest event Secretary of State Tillerson has said the State Department will “have a recommendation for the president. We’re going to give him a couple of options of how to move forward to advance the important policy toward Iran”.
This follows Trump saying he would be “surprised” if Iran would be declared complaint in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
If, in the end, Trump decides not not to certify, then Congress would have 60 days to decide to re-impose the sanctions on Iran that were suspended as part of the deal.
One suggestion that has been mooted is that, instead of certifying that Iran is meeting its technical commitments under the deal and Congress restarting sanctions, the Administration would commit to reporting to Congress about broader aggressive Iranian behaviour and what they are doing to counter it.
This would, on the one hand, keep the deal intact, but give the US the headroom to take firmer and bolder action against this behaviour.
The primary focus of further action stems from the Administration’s deep concerns about Iran’s other activities, including its ballistic missile program, its support for terrorism and its actions in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
Trump was unequivocal speaking at the UN in New York saying “it is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction”.
Taking on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, its support for international terrorism through groups such as Hezbollah and its missile-related activities that place it in the same league as North Korea are absolutely vital for the long-term stability of the entire Middle East.
The next week or so could well mark the most significant pinch point since the JCPOA was signed back in 2015. Iran’s disregard for international law has gone on for far too long and it is now time for real pressure and action to be applied.
It seems that, on this occasion at least, Trump really does means business. We shall soon see what this entails.